Posted by: Kate | August 5, 2008


(Note: Each line spoken by a different individual.)

7:00p – “Hi, Kate.  I have bad news.  You’ll need to start your shift at Hospital A.  I have worse news.  You have three people waiting to be seen.”

8:00p – “No, I’m not an alcoholic.  I just… drink a lot.  Until I black out.  But only five or six times a year.  And I never tried to kill myself before, so I don’t think it could have had anything to do with the drinking.  I don’t need AA.”

9:00p – “Well, yeah, I was suicidal, but only until I realized that if I went to a psych ward then they wouldn’t let me smoke.  I’m fine now.  I just want to go home.”

10:00p – “No, I don’t need substance abuse treatment.  I just use whatever street drugs I can get my hands on because I don’t have health insurance.  If I had health insurance, I wouldn’t be using.  …What?  No, I’m not working.  I haven’t been working since right about the time I started using.  But I’m not addicted.  I don’t need NA.”

11:00p – “This time will be different.  I’ve only been hospitalized twelve times this year, so I’m doing better than last year.  And one of these times, they’ll just tell me what I need to do to get better.”

12:00p – “Yeah, I got wicked mad because my boyfriend moved out and my baby’s father isn’t paying child support and I’m broke.  So I just took all of my Percosets and Klonopins.  Whatever.  I called 911 right away, and I’m fine now, so what’s the big deal?  [pause, while she is informed that the Emergency Department will not provide a new prescription to replace the previously ingested ones]  You assholes! I can’t believe you people.  What the hell is the problem?  Give me my fucking pills or I’ll sue you all.”

1:00a – “Well, yes, I know you told me over the phone that I should wait until the morning to call and get set up with a therapist.  I remember that you told me that there was no possible way to get an appointment until the morning.  I thought maybe you were just kidding.”

2:00a – “You’re very blunt.  I like it better when they just send me where I say to.  I’ve been hospitalized fifteen times this year, so I know what’s best for me.”

3:00a – “Well, she’s my mother, and I think she needs to be in the hospital.  Well, no, she’s not dangerous.  I just want to go away for a few days, and I don’t know where else she can stay.”

4:00a – “Yes, I remember talking to you on the phone.  You said to wait and talk to my regular doctor in the morning.  That’s why I took a cab to this hospital instead of calling 911 and taking the ambulance to the other hospital.  I didn’t realize you worked at both places.”

5:00a -“Hey, look.  We have absolutely no patients in the ED right now.  What, Kate, are you leaving?  Good ni- ”

6:00a – 8:00a – [Blessed, blessed silence, celebrated with a deep, dreamless, fully-dressed sleep]

9:00a – “Well, no, I don’t really think he’s dangerous, and there’s probably nothing you can do, but can you just [drive an extra 22 miles and] come see him anyway?  I want someone else to share the liability if he leaves here and goes berserk.”

10:00a – “What do you mean, autistic?  I thought he was schizophrenic.  He was having delusions and paranoia and all that.  Now I’m going to have to rewrite my diagnosis.  Can’t you just say he’s schizophrenic for today?”

11:00a – “Seven assessments in fourteen hours?  Don’t you think that’s a bit excessive?”  Why, yes, as a matter of fact, I do.

Since then, it has been relatively quiet, and that which has happened has not required me to leave the house.  Which is good, because the combination of sleep deprivation and over-caffeination has given me a decidedly ungraceful lurch instead of a normal-person walk.  I don’t imagine my driving skills are fit for public consumption.

And just think, in only two more hours, it will be 8:00p again, and my shift will be over.  And I only have two more 24-hour shifts this month.  Bliss.



  1. It’s 8:00 here… I wish you a peaceful night’s sleep!!

  2. Oh, my. You’re a saint, my dear.

    I don’t know how you keep yourself from slapping someone across the face every now and then. It must be frustrating at times, especially when you’re exhausted.

  3. …and then smiling children, chocolate and a blissful sleep swept over our Miss Kate as she floated away into the non-intensified wacky world of normal.

    Be well Miss Kate

  4. At least they’re honest with you.
    Gee, you had some professionals in that group. I’d have admitted them all, except the Mother, instead, I’d have committed the daughter.

  5. The 4AM one cracked me up….

    If you can’t laugh (or at least make your blogosphere friends laugh), then you’ll end up committing yourself. Hang in there friend. 🙂

  6. Wow. It’s pretty bad out there!

  7. Well God Love Ya! That is all I can say.

  8. I don’t know how you do it, but I’m glad you do. Except the 24 hours in a row thing…that just stinks. Rest well!

  9. What an interesting job you must have. I hope you get some good rest after that stint.

  10. […] Throw Away the Key So, Monday-through-Tuesday was quite interesting.*  Every one of those tidbits of conversation would have made a complete blog post on its own, and might, yet.  Interestingly, only one out of […]

  11. Oh dear…scary to think who is free to roam the streets!

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