Coping Skills Don’t Come in Pill Form

Just swallow

Just swallow

OK, I promise to write more often (thank you all for the kick). June and July are always mega-busy as everyone tries to go on vacation, and then you get a Dumass doctor fired and it just makes things that much harder on everyone.

One of the saddest commentaries on the modern world that I see on an all too regular basis is the absolute lack of coping skills in the growing generation. We had generation X and then Y, and I guess they’ll need to call this generation W for whiners. Too pampered while growing up that they have no idea how to manage their own problems after they very effectively create them.

Case in point. This past weekend, I had the unfortunate experience of seeing LT on three separate occasions for what he described as “anxiety or a panic attack”. LT was a promising college football recruit out of his competitive high school district. I have no doubt that he was getting his bum kissed all the way through high school and well into college until he blew out his knee.

He went to surgery for his ACL, but being that LT had always had others to take care of him, he ended up with an infected knee and a PIC line. The nurses in the ED came to know him well as he would often roll into the ER for his scheduled IV antibiotics after midnight while drunk and with a different girl on his arm. And things would only get worse …

Soon after, one of his girlfriends got pregnant and decided she didn’t want him in her, or the newborn boy’s, life. On one of his drunk escapades, he got into a fight with some guys on a street corner. For some reason though, he was the one arrested (they were all the same ethnicity by the way). Since his knee was no good now, he also lost his scholarship and with it, the stream of girls who had followed him around.

So now he had only one girl left and a growing list of problems. So poor LT thought he was going crazy and came to the ER. There he received an rx for Paxil and some Ativan to help him calm down. Little did I know that he would be back a short 10 hours later. He told the nurse that the doc he had seen earlier “hadn’t taken the time to talk to him”. He was surprised to see that it was still me though and quickly backtracked by saying that what he meant was that he hadn’t had enough time to fully explain his problems.

So, I listened patiently to him as he told his sob story. Afterward, I explained to him once again that he was not crazy but that he had several issues that he would need to address one at a time (just like the rest of us mere mortals). He didn’t seem to like my suggestion as that entailed actual effort on his part. I resisted the urge to ask him if his girlfriend wipes his butt for him as well.

The next day he showed up yet again, this time saying that he felt chest pain. I was obligated to do more of a work-up this time – which was completely negative 80 minutes and $5000 later. I had no desire to see him again in what remained of my ridiculously long shift and hit him with the B-52. When his mother, I mean girlfriend, came to pick him up he was already half-way to his “happy place”.

Thinking I was done, I actually rested. But less than 2 hours later the police showed up with an inmate who had swallowed shampoo and some toothpaste in a suicide attempt. I asked him why he had done that, and he said that he couldn’t handle being in jail anymore. He was put in jail 3 days earlier for DUI. I thought to myself, “you really don’t know what being uncomfortable is all about – yet.” Then I got out the gastric lavage.

I don’t think he had bargained on getting a garden hose put into his stomach without sedation. But he just couldn’t get it through his mind that he needed to find a way, other than medicine to “knock him out”, to cope with prison life. The whole “do the crime, do the time” thing just didn’t compute in his mind.

The future scares me.

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9 Responses to Coping Skills Don’t Come in Pill Form

  1. Sapphire says:

    Baby Boomers have only themselves to blame for spoiling their kids rotten. They gave their kids everything they wanted in terms of material things and over inflated their children’s egos by telling them how great they are even when they are lousy at the task they are doing. Evidence is on parade when American Idol tryouts start all those wannabe super stars who are told that they are not great for the first time in their life and they throw a temper tantrum upon hearing Simon telling them no. These kids often say their mommy told them what a great singer they were. Good Grief! I know the Baby Boomers meant well with their kids but you don’t raise confident children by lying to them and protecting them from reality.

    Generation Y (those born after 1979) are the most coddled and protected generation I have ever seen. They never have been let to fail or succeed on their own merits. Many of them have their parents do their homework for them, chauffeur them to school and get them their first part time job. Baby Boomers enroll their children in every activity under the sun and over scheduled them. Baby Boomers hover around their kids too much and even check up on them when their kids go off to college. Generation Y has trouble coping with lives ups and downs because they have been sheltered from them and have never developed any strong coping skills of their own. Generation Y has had it pretty cushy up till now. Now they are being shocked by a recession. I feel sorry for them. It is not easy to start developing coping skills when you in your 20’s and facing adversity for the very first time in your life.

  2. Tunde says:

    I personally feel that kids needs praise ,but it must be balanced out. They have to learn from early age to resolve issues. That is when they have a fight with siblings or friend in preK or kindergarten or even earlier age, we need to let them resolve between themselves, of curse you do not let it go out of hand either, but the constant jumping in will result of…..My mommy or daddy will rescue me. Make them take responsibility for their actions and stop finding excuses for them.

    Also, one must be honest with their kids about their abilities as well. I see so many kids thinking they are superstars singers ballerinas etc…. The parents must know the abilities of their children. I am not saying that kids shouldn’t try new things and try to excel on those, it is just simply if the kid doesn’t have a talent well it is time to try something else.

    The other issue is, when these kids are excelling in something we shouldn’t treat them that the world will stop going around if they are not performing . Acknowledge it and praise them but for GOD sake stop treating them like they are the only one and everyone must bow to them.
    I also fear for the future b/c i see more and more kids have no coping skills and they turn to alcohol, drugs to drown their insecurities.

    I feel sorry for these kids b/c they do not know better.

  3. Sabra says:

    Generation Y (those born after 1979) are the most coddled and protected generation I have ever seen.

    I was born in 1979, and even as a child my peers irritated the *)#^ out of me.

    As a mother, I look at it this way: If I cannot raise my children to be competent adults, then I have FAILED, no matter how self-aware and happy they might be. There is a very fine line between knowing how to ask for help when you need it and expecting everyone else to do for you.

    I’m seeing a lot of the latter in college right now. During finals week, I had about five different people from two of my classes come up to me and quiz me about the final. When was it? What was going to be on it? What did they need for it? This is all info that they would have had if they’d simply bothered to show up for the last day of class (heck, the finals schedule wasn’t just in our syllabi, it was published in the campus newspaper AND on fliers posted all over campus).

    • ER Doc says:

      Thank you Sapphire, Tunde and Sabra for your wonderful and insightful comments … each of you has really brought so much insight and wisdom to this discussion that I wish I had written this earlier. It seems that all of you are also mothers and so maybe there is hope after all. Thanks again!

  4. Ardosa says:

    I am not a Gen Yer, but I have 3 young daughters (11,8,4) and the kids today are just horrid. I am known on the block to be the strictest parent. Why? because my child did something wrong and she got grounded. The other did not do well on her report card (because she didn’t do the work, not because she didn’t know the material!) and, yes, she got grounded. No phone. We don’t own a video game (good lord the gasps of horror from the other kids is crazy).

    it is summer time… My oldest was given homework.

    not school. Me.
    She didn’t do it during the school year, she is going to show me she can make it in the next grade by doing it now (can’t finish? maybe you shouldn’t go to the summer dance intensive tomorrow).

    I find it sad with that football player can’t get his head out of his butt and now we’ll pay for him and his kids and everything else on welfare and he’ll be more like Al Bundy “Oh, the football days… I was so good then”. You could be good now, if you cared.

    I feel bad for you ER Doc. At least I can choose not to go to the ER and work on the floors in the ICU where someone is intubated and not talk back and tell me how good things were in highschool. (Sometimes, it is good to be the pharmacist!)

    • Tunde says:

      I am just glad that someone else is out there giving homework during summer vacation. I keep my kids occupied with constructive activities as well as we have lots of fun. It is unfortunate that they are exposed so much of a bad influence from school and their friends. Although some of her friends come over and ask me to give them home work…lol

  5. Sonic says:

    I have some major issues with suicide, self injury and drugs. I feel that it is not that I lack coping skills, but that my peers at school taunted and made my life miserable. They would crack an egg and throw it down my back and all kinds of shiz. It definitely didn’t help that some older guys decided I would be a good target for rape. Now, tha, ruined any self esteem I had. (Does that make me sexually active. :s?) Every generation is going to have problems…

  6. Jordan says:

    THIS IS SO TRUE!! I was born in 1985 and went through a few prescription benzo years before I got my ass kicked and nursing school (haha) to really feel what it felt like to struggle–or struggle more than what I was used to anyways… other ethnic groups make fun of whites in the hospital, because they are the most notorious for being ‘psych’ like this. Agreed, Gen Rx lives are so easy it’s counterproductive to say the least…

  7. stephanie says:

    I just have a question about the athlete with the bad knee. You said he was sent off with a script for ativan? Did you prescribe that or another physician? Isn’t that a pretty dangerous drug to be prescribing especially in the er; to someone who isn’t going to or hasn’t taken it regularly? Even pretty dangerous to those who do. I was just wondering because my pcp prescribed that to me for anxiety and to this day, 4 years later, I cannot remember being at work, driving home nor why I was 3 hours late picking up my kids from school when I left work ontime. Where was I for 3 hours? Then I find out that lorazapam is the generic name & its used for date rape. So, just wondering why a drug that causes amnesia is given in the er?

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