Some People Have Nine Lives Too

Medical Cynicism 101

Medical Cynicism 101

I remember someone giving me a book to read called The House of God when I was in medical school. I imagine that a lot of you have read this book as well. I thought that it would have been a better book had it not digressed so much into sex and I never really finished it for that reason. Looking back now at the some of the book’s ideas, especially that of the GOMER, a lot of it really rings true.

There are certain people that come to the ER that seem to command little to no empathy from all ER staff. They go by different names but they seem to make their way to all ER’s irregardless. They just don’t die, no matter what they – or someone else – does to them. They survive such extreme conditions that would kill even the most hardened average person a long time ago. And they just keep on ticking away.

I saw one such person in the ER this weekend. A staffer at the ED told me that he knew him well as he used to see him regularly when he owned a liquor store. The guy apparently had 6 kids with 6 different women (another f#^&er setting up franchises I noted), and was clearly proud of it when I asked him. This time, he was driving his motorcycle at about 100 MPH down the highway, weaving in and out of traffic, until he lost control. His bike slammed into the median strip ditch at this insane speed and he went flying into a field where he landed on his back. Of course, he wasn’t wearing a helmet. Would you or I have survived an accident like this? No. We would have died when the bike hit the ditch or even before that maybe. Did it kill him though? Not even close. He ended up with a broken collar-bone and first rib. He went home after a short observation period in the hospital.

Or not so long ago, when I saw a raging @$$hole in the ER demanding that I give him a prescription for ritalin. I had already looked into this guy’s long list of abuse (cocaine, meth, alcohol, narcotics, benzos, etc.) as well as the previous notes describing his charmingly prickish personality and habit of physically attacking those who disagree with him.  So, I explained to him as politely as I could (while maintaining a safe distance) that this was not something that we ever did and that he needed to speak to his doctor if he felt he should be on it. He threatened me and used enough profanity to make someone from the Sopranos blush, and then left the ER.

He was so angry at so many people that he decided that enough was enough and he was going to die. He took an overdose of someone else’s Vicodin and Xanax and locked himself in his room at the house he was staying at.

An hour later, one of his house mates came to check on him because he was “unusually quiet”.  No answer and so he broke down the door only to find his “friend” lying facedown on the floor with two empty pill bottles near-by. He tried to wake him up and then called EMS. They arrived within 5 minutes – 5 minutes where no one was doing any CPR on this 37 year old man. He had to have been dead for at least 30 minutes before EMS even layed hands on him. They worked him for 15 minutes with nothing and brought him back to me.

In the ER, we worked him for another 20 minutes and just before I called time of death, wouldn’t you know it – his heart started beating again. I really don’t know what happened to him eventually, but how could a man who has been totally dead for at least 30 solid minutes to one hour get anything back is beyond me.

If it was some kid who had drowned in a pool and was given CPR by mom and then brought to us he would have been dead of course. Its the people that seem to be the most vile that survive. The ones that you hope make it are never the ones that do make it. Their stories are tragic. As for these people, I honestly believe that they are anaerobes like bacteria.

They seem to actually thrive when they don’t have oxygen or other elements essential to life for the rest of us. They fall off a building and the next day they are walking out of the hospital after they have drained the life out of everyone they have come into contact with – which may in fact be their secret. Maybe there is some truth to Vampires after all?

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6 Responses to Some People Have Nine Lives Too

  1. Sapphire says:

    I am surprised the drug addict had any friends if he is that obnoxious all the time. I’ve noticed that these yahoos seem to be lucky too. I could leave one little ugly lawn ornament out in my backyard and it would get stolen but the obnoxious yahoos that live in the house behind me can leave all matter of stuff out in their yard and nobody ever comes along and steals any of it. These yahoos are also lucky when it comes to careers and children. They get hired over more qualified honest people. They have no problems with fertility. They can abuse their bodies while pregnant and their children turn out perfectly normal but somebody who is nice and normal and didn’t drink, smoke or do drugs while pregnant ends up with a child with all sorts of health problems. It isn’t fair. There are people out there that would make great parents but are unable to conceive but yahoos who couldn’t care less if they ever had kids have no problems conceiving kids. Nature has a warped sense of fairness.

  2. Tunde says:

    I guess these people sharing some of the same DNA as the cockroaches… they believed to survive the nuclear war.(the roaches i meant)
    We had some of these at our ER and they never sees to surprised us. A glimpse of hope started to rise on the horizon when we didn’t see them one week , but it quickly faded away by the end of the week.

    Somehow GOD wants them around… maybe they are a reminder for us, but I haven’t been able to figure out what a heck they reminding me of, other than aggravation.
    They were sure in a frequent flyer club , the ELITE section. They racked up so many ambulance miles that they can put a busy business men into shame.
    They sure never go away.

  3. smoore says:

    It’s not that God wants them around — it’s that Death doesn’t want to have deal with them!

    And my grandmother is like that: Nearly 90, should have been dead several times over with her various health issues, meaner than hell.

    My brother jokes that when the bombs fall, the only things left afterwards will be cockroaches, Keith Richards, and our grandmother… and if Keith wants to survive, he’d better learn to cook chicken-fried steak for Granny!

  4. Ann Stone says:

    I’ve noticed the same thing. I think there may be some validity to the cockroach theory.

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