Hell is the others

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
About life as a doctor on the midnight shift, on a Friday night.

No, I'm not a doctor, but that's okay. I know a few ER doctors and they all say the friday night midnight shift is terrible

Submitted: June 02, 2008

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Submitted: June 02, 2008



Oh God, I really do hate the midnight shift. “Thank God it’s Friday!” say some. For me, Fridays are the worst. The students end early and go drink themselves silly, coming in with pieces of glass in their foreheads from a fight. Exhausted parents come in with their sick children and damn, the kid’s gone and hurled all over the floor. Where are the nurses? Somebody come clean this up before some idiot slips and hurts himself. Let’s try to minimize the risk of accidents mmkay? An old lady wanders in, a Pekingese dog under her arm, mumbling something incomprehensible and a trainee comes running, guiding her back to the elderly ward on the fifth floor.
A woman is carried in by her husband, moaning, drenched in the amniotic fluid of her waters. He says they were stuck in traffic trying to get here, I don’t care sir, let’s just get this over with. Emergency caesarian section, here's your child madam, yes; he is beautiful, would you like to breastfeed or should we get a breast pump and bottle?
A junkie comes in asking for syringes, says it’s our place to supply them and tell me buddy, do I look like I’m in the mood to listen to your whining about the government? Get the hell out of my emergency room and find a rehab clinic.
Yes sir, I am aware that you have been waiting for two hours but I’m afraid you’ll have to wait a bit more because there are people here who need my attention first. Call your lawyer if you want but the fact of the matter is, you’re not getting blood all over my floor like that old woman over there and she’s been here for five hours. So please wait your turn. Ma’am? How long have you had this nosebleed? Ma’am? Nurse! Get her on a bed and get a drip going fast, she’s gone into shock from the blood loss. In the far corner, a tramp has drunk himself into a stupor and is still clutching his brown bag. He’s got a nasty bite from something, probably that mean-looking Rottweiler tied up outside.
I recognize that whine, the typical sound of a mother who’s come home to find her teenager and his friends practically comatose from the cocktails they’ve been making up. Stupid, stupid, not locking the liquor cabinet. Vodka, gin and rum don’t go well together, you’ve got to learn it the hard way Lady. Of course they’ll be okay, eventually, but they’ll have one nasty hangover when they wake up. Put your son to bed with some warm tea and a few Advil and trust me, you’re lucky he wasn’t driving in that state.
Speaking of driving, are those the ambulance sirens I hear? Jesus, what happened to him? Hit and run eh? Get him into the OR quick, he’ll need some major stitching up and we’ll be working against the clock. Have the parents been called yet? No?! Well what are you waiting for, get on it! They’ll be wondering why he isn’t back yet. Poor kid, he’s lost a lot of blood, that’s at least a week of hospitalization.
Cut, stitch, inject, smile, pretend to care, I become an automaton, trying to get people out of here as fast as possible so I can finally go home. I remember the stories of late night shift doctors who make fatal mistakes and I pray that my diagnosis is right, that I’m not botching this up. 1 o’clock comes, two o’clock drags by and finally, 3 AM, my sub comes in. My eyes are blurry, my throat has the acrid aftertaste of the crappy coffee I drank to stay awake. God, let me go home already! Let me curl up into my bed and forget the guy who cursed when I stopped the flow of blood from his chopped up arteries, a botched suicide, and the old woman who cringed when I rolled up her sleeve for a blood test and brushed against the number tattooed on and the memories of the nights her spent in Auschwitz came rushing out with a single touch. It’s been yet another long shift, a night that turned into morning and now, as I finally walk into my own room, I thank the Lord that I’m not in that mad house any more.
God, how I hate the midnight shift. But now, as the lights click off, my brain shuts down and I fall into the dreamless sleep of exhaustion.

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