Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Memories

Let's take the Way-Back machine to the early-90's.

Dr. Grumpy is the medicine intern, on-call for Thanksgiving, at a large VA hospital (a veterans hospital for my non-U.S. readers, with consequently a primarily cantankerous elderly male population).

A peculiar thing about VA hospitals (at least back then, I haven't worked at one for 15 years) is that patients could sign out at the nurse's desk, and come back later (allegedly they were in the hospital because they were sick, but you need to work at one to understand this point). So the sheet was always full of notations that patients had signed out to go to McDonald's, or to buy cigarettes, or to smoke, or to visit friends at the homeless shelter, or to hold up a liquor store, or whatever.

Some bright businessman had opened a stripper club across the street from the hospital, I think it was called The Jaguar Room. So on Thanksgiving the VA ward I was covering was empty, as most of the patients had signed out to walk, wheel, or crawl over to The Jaguar Room for some female comfort and booze.

I was asleep in the intern's room when the calls began coming in. All of them from the bartender at The Jaguar Room. Questions about was it safe for my patients to be smoking through their tracheostomy tubes? Were the cardiac telemetry packs still transmitting from across the street? Was there a place at the VA where the patients could get more $1 bills, because they'd used them all up on the strippers?

And my favorite:

Bartender: "Can I give Mr. Veteran another beer?"

Intern Grumpy: "Um, what's the problem?"

Bartender: "He has one of those foley bags things, with the tube going up his dick. The bag is, like, REALLY full, and I'm afraid if I give him another beer it'll pop and send piss everywhere."

Intern Grumpy: "Send him back to the hospital."

Bartender: "Well, that's bad for business."

Intern Grumpy: "So is showering your clientele with piss."

Mr. Veteran was wheeled back over to the VA immediately, by a topless stripper no less, who waited while his bag was emptied and then pushed him back to the bar.

A happy Thanksgiving to all, and to all a good night.


bobbie said...

LOl!!! And thank you for that uplifting tale...

Anonymous said...

I showed this tale to my father who frequents the VA hospital in our area. He laffed his ass off, and said they could use a gentleman's club across from the hospital.

Dad is a Korean War vet.

LD50 Rat

J-Quell'n said...

That is so crazy!

PsychNurseN said...

Gotta love the men at the VA!! (my favorite clinical rotation) Smart business to put a strip club across the street.

ER's Mom said...

Smart businessman.

My word verification is shotaman. I kid you not.

Marco said...

They should rename the bar "Ward 2 annex" or something similar. Sort of like bars named "The Office" or "The Lab."

Thanks for all your stories, Dr. Grumpy.

Rebecca S. said...

I think you should write a book - like James Herriot, only it would be a little less quaint.

The Mother said...

We didn't have a strip club next to our VA, but we did have turkey night on Thanksgiving, which meant that we had a full house.

That also meant that we had a house full of people who didn't need to be in house, but really appreciated turkey.

The really scary thing was that no one, short of a dna analysis, could determine whether that night's mystery meat was, indeed, turkey, or something significantly cheaper. As in dog. Or rat.

Like turkey is expensive. But you had to understand VA mystery meat (and veterans) to get it.

Dymphna said...

I remember signing myself out to go get some ice cream. Not as an exciting of a story, but now that you mention it, it IS kind of absurd that we were allowed to sign ourselves out to do things...

Anonymous said...

funny, looking foward to starting my medical degree

Colleen said...

I currently work at a VA and this made me laugh SOOO hard. Patients all the time are asking to leave the ICU to go smoke...and if we don't let them sometimes they just light up in the room!! You make my day with your posts Grumpy!

danielle said...

Whoa-ee - that sounds a little chilly - for the topless stripper to push the gentlemand across the street - outside - in November!
I am sure they all had a lot of THANKSgiving to celebrate!

RSDS said...

About 17 years ago I was able to sign out of the VA locked Psych ward to drive to my college class. (I was there, through Halloween, for depresion.)

That was when I lived in a different state than where I currently live. I go to a different VA hospital now.

verification - triskini

Anonymous said...

Yak herders have such great imaginations!! What a tale!! I haven't laughed so hard in so long..... well since the last time I caught up with your blog! Gotta get me a coffee mug!

Locations of visitors to this page