Thursday, March 30, 2017

I may have mentioned on these pages that I have an ABBA fixation.  I have no idea why.  I wasn’t really into much pop music during their Nordic heyday, and it’s only within the last decade that I’m become a true fan.  But now I can’t stop.  I seek out ABBA eveywhere I can.  I even use ABBA as a harbinger of quality.  Just last week I walked into a local diner and noted the soft undertones of “The Winner Takes it All” from the speakers behind the potted plants.  It was like Bjorn personally telling me it would be a good meal, better perhaps than even lutefisk with lingonberry jam.  It was.  Voulez-Vous!  Aha!

(The Dental Empress has been most gracious in putting up with this.  However, she draws the line at liking the musical “Mamma Mia!”  In her mind, it’s the story of a woman who slept around with three guys and has no idea who’s the Baby Daddy.  She thinks a better title might be “Your Mom’s a Whore.”  She is nothing if not practical.)

The ER staff here in this small town has discovered my Swedish Obession, and now the wee small hours of the morning have turned into ABBA fest courtesy of a respiratory tech with an excellent 70’s playlist.  Thus the background for my tale.


Several nights ago one of our regulars showed up.  He’s known for a number of things, but one of them was a notable amount of glee with the act of urinary catheterization.  It’s not that he jumps for joy…that would defeat the purpose of catheterization, as it’s hard to hit a moving target, especially a small one…but he expresses his pleasure is somewhat more demonstrable physical ways.  (After meeting him, one does get the sense that his options are limited.)   So when he came that evening for another of his umpteenth visits, he not only requested a catheterization, but requested that a certain nurse perform the procedure.  Fortunately for her, she was not working that night, and he went away in flaccid disappointment. 

Tonight, however, Catheter Man was back.  And to his good fortune, his RN of choice (whom we will call The Blonde Urinary Queen) was assigned to his room.  But she was breathing a sigh of relief, as his complaint tonight was merely wrist pain.

When someone has wrist pain, there are a couple of things you think about.  There’s injury, of course, and arthritis, gout, infection, and the like.  But one of the most common causes of wrist pain is repetitive strain injury.  So I’m planning to ask him what he does with his wrist that might be causing him pain, and as I’m planning my strategy I look at his past records and find that he was here last week for left forearm pain, and I look into the open door to his room and I see him grin as the The Blonde Urinary Queen passes by. 

Repetitive strain?  Hand and forearm?  And he likes to be catheterized in a most adult way and looks for a particular nurse?  Ummm…oh, no.  My head didn’t just go there, right?  Right?

No, it couldn’t be.  Because Emergency Medicine is a collaborative effort, I raise my concerns with a nursing colleague.

“It might be,” she says.

(This is my same nursing colleague who has wisely decided that instead of using negative language, she will use rhymes to convey what she actually means.  She’s recently stopped using the phrase “Bite Me.”)

“But why would he do it with his left hand?”  By now, I’ve seen the patient and I’m back at the nurse’s station.  Ever-observant, I’ve noted he appears to be right-handed.

“Well, maybe he turns pages or uses the remote with his right.”

About this time “Super Trouper” comes on the iPhone.   I adore this sog.  It’s truly one of favorites.  It’s a  starring turn for Frida, and in the accompanying video there’s Agnetha debuting her Saturday Night Fever arm-in-the-air, skyward-finger-point.  It’s also the ABBA song which most embarrasses my son as I put my hand, Agnetha-like, through the sunroof driving down the interstate.  Because THAT would never attract attention.

(For those who want to know…mostly me…Wikipedia tells us:

“The song, with lead vocals by Anni-Frid Lyngstad, was the last to be written and recorded for this album and it replaced the track "Put On Your White Sombrero". The working title of this song was "Blinka Lilla Stj√§rna."

I’m going to take that to IKEA and see what they can do with it.  It’s probably the name of a DIY credenza by now.)

So as Frida bemoans her say in Scotland, I rise from my chair and prepare for the chorus.

“…a Super Trouper…”

At this moment, my left hand flies into the air in my best imitation of the Faltskog Finger.  This Travoltian move causes the tech sitting nearby to say that I should watch out so I don’t injure my forearm or wrist like Catheter Man.

Responds the nurse,” Don’t worry about it.  Doc uses his right.”

Catheter Man calls from his room that he can’t pee.  The Blonde Urinary Queen sighs. 

Far away from the watchful eyes of Human Resources, this is why we work nights.