Friday, July 2, 2010


Mr. Frisen was found lying on the sidewalk outside the ABC Liquor Store. I’ve always thought that they should put a bench outside of ABC, because it seems to be a favored place for some of our ED clientele to relax and recline. Perhaps they could even build a small, self-service hostel as a way of building customer loyalty. It makes sense to keep your best customers close at hand. You could call it Motel 6 Proof.

(By the way, have you ever noticed that you never see an ABC Liquor Factory Outlet Store at the Outlet Mall? Is there no such thing as seconds or overruns? “By gosh, we put just a bit too much alcohol in that bottle. Maybe we can sell it at half price?”)

However, the passers-by tend to frown upon live bodies obstructing the sidewalk. So the police brought Mr. Frisen in to see us to make sure he was okay. They left him in our care, but with a note to please contact them before he was to be released. This is the polite law enforcement way of saying “We’re not leaving an officer here with you, but when you’re done he’s going to jail.”

Unfortunately, Mr.Frisen was not a patient man. He had people to see, places to go, and things to do, and apparently all of them were quite urgent matters for 2:27 AM on a school night. So when he demanded to leave, it was with great regret that we informed him that this was not really going to be possible, as the police wanted a word with him after we were done. He must have been displeased with the news, because he decided to tear out the plexiglass walls of the exam room.

When someone goes ballistic in the ED, there is generalized bedlam. The charge is led by well-muscled young guys seething with vital hormonal secretions, who are able to secure the patient from harm by subduing them with gentle, patient-friendly techniques learned from watching cage fighting. But these are social occasions as well, where every free staffer gathers to offer commentary, complement particularly creative holds, gossip, and generally observe the fun. In fact, when we know of an upcoming event (such as when we hear security paged to certain room), we all tend to gravitate towards our next shared experience.

This happens on a reasonably frequent basis, and is not really news in and of itself. But what makes Mr. Frisen’s case worth noting is the sheer volume of good lines that came out of it, and the large number of staff who got in on the act.

There’s the nurse apply leather restraints, saying “Most of the time I get paid for this.”

There’s the tech who has one knee on the small of Mr. Frisen’s back and his arms engaged in holding down his right wrist, noting “If I stay here, I can’t send you any more patents from triage.” Mr. Frisen utters a profanity as he tries to wriggle out from under him. The tech tightens his grip and smiles. “Sure you wouldn’t like me to stay here for a while?”

There’s our registration clerk, who pops into the struggle to notify us that he has spoken with Mr. Frisen's sister and has been told 1) If he needs life support, don’t do it; and 2) If he dies, we should call her in the morning.

Once in restraints, Mr. Frisen calms down. (They most often do.) His alcohol level comes back at 398, almost five times the legal limit in our fair state. This prompts someone to note that he should have his own liqour license. In turn, our female-unit-clerk-in-a-committed-relationship-with-another-woman notes, “Hey! I want one of these!”

(It’s a sound-alike joke. Keep working on it. Thank you.)

The jail won’t take him until his alcohol level drops below 200, which is about eight hours away. He’s asleep, and I think we’ve run out of one-liners for the evening. Besides, it’s close to 7 AM, and Waffle House is calling my name.

Sleep well, Mr. Frisen. But come back tomorrow night. We’re here all week. And be sure to tip your techs. They’re out there working hard for you.


A few other quick takes on a very slow night…the kind where you’re paid to socialize (and the kind I can never get enough of):

“Mrs. Payne is 88 years old. She’s been a pain for a long, long time.”

Phone call taken at 6:30 AM by our Unit Clerk. “You said you need a wheelchair to be waiting for you when you get here? I’m sorry, but we can’t have someone sitting outside just waiting for you. We’ll be happy to help you if you need it when you get here.” A pause. “And you’re driving yourself?”

“I’m looking forward to July 4th. It’s Redneck Natural Selection Day.”


  1. Love it, particularly the last line! Too true.

  2. From AP in New York -- Eric Smith, 36, had been using a three-foot-long metal tube as a launcher to shoot mortars from the street near his Long Island home.
    Police believe he leaned over the device while trying to ignite a firework and it rocketed into his shoulder.
    Friends and relatives attending a barbecue in Mr Smith's back yard heard a boom and rushed around to the front to find him injured.
    Mr Smith's wife, Tania, saw the accident from her kitchen window. "I ran out to see if he was alive," she said.
    One witness said the father-of-two "kept groaning: 'Oh, man, I messed up. I really messed up'."