Creepy Love and Other Relationship Oddities of the Week: I

July 18, 2009

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From time to time in the ER, we have the unfortunate experience of seeing relationships so foul that they can only be called “creepy love” as a nurse so aptly put it one night. It is just the sheer volume of people that we interact with that necessitates, to some degree, that we see all sorts of oddities. To narrow it down to just a few is so hard that I decided this would only be one part in a mini-series. Prepare to be horrified.

Creepy Love #1  goes hands down to a mother and son team that came in last night. The son, a young man of 19 years, presents with mom because his testicles hurt. Ok, nothing weird so far. Before I go in the room, I see mom step out as he gets gowned, something totally expected. I figured she would stay in the waiting room till he got discharged. Wrong.
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As I start the exam, Mom returns. I tell her from behind the curtain that we are about to examine the private area and if she would be comfortable returning later. To my surprise, they both – almost simultaneously – say no. So, she comes back to watch me examine her boy’s family jewels.  Afterwards, we come to the a set of questions of what he was doing when his balls started to hurt.  I am totally amazed as he goes into a detailed description – again in front of Mom – of how he was making out with a girl for “a really long time” without hitting the pay-off at the end. So, I told him that most likely he was suffering from a case of  “blue balls” – or testicular vasocongestion in medical speak. 
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Mom very creepily laughed at this point and told me that this is what she had suspected as well. I thought to myself, “If she starts talking about how this kid’s Dad used to get blue balls when they were still a fledgling couple – I am outta here!”  Usually young men cross the – Mom, “this is kinda private” – line around 15 years old. 16 wouldn’t be weird. 17 is pushing it. College age is already weird. But 19 going on 20 is just creepy (this guy is about to start junior year in college).
 
Creepy Love #2: Young woman – 25 years old – presents to the ER after having a fall the night before when she was plastered. There is a gentleman (used very loosely) in the room with her who appears to be in his 50’s. I’m thinking Dad, but I learned a long time ago to not assume anything in this area (We’ve all been there before – “So, this must be your Mother right?” Patient’s wife replies in a very insulted tone, “Mother? I’m his wife“. Ohhh – can the Earth please open up and swallow me now please).
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So, I casually wait for a moment to ask the man, “And you are?”. He replies that he is a “good friend“. Another lesson that I have learned is that “good friend” can also mean any one of many things. Apparently, Mr. Good Friend was with this young lady at the bar last night and drove her home. So, I’m thinking maybe he lives on the same street – saw his neighbor trading sober for hammered and kindly offered to take her home. No, that would be too normal. This was all about the creepy.
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So, since she had fallen in her less-than-sober state, I needed to check certain areas of her that were still clothed. I told her to get gowned and that’s when the creepy-meter hit red. I walked out of the room to let her get undressed – and he didn’t.  Now I know you’re thinking, it isn’t necessarily weird for an older man to date a younger woman less than half his age, and that in some ways it can be totally socially acceptable. Believe me, this wasn’t one of those cases.  
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The last couple for this post wasn’t a creepy one at all, just a sad one. 55 year old man comes in with chest pain. There is a woman with him who looks like she fell from the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down as well as ate bark. But I really do believe that beauty is partly from within and not only skin deep – so I really didn’t think much of it. Until I started the interview.
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Everytime this guy would try to answer a question, this woman would literally scream at him and say he was lying. Then she would tell me something else. He didn’t seem to fight it, so I could only assume she was right. It was more typical of the way an angry mother would correct her delinquint son, but this was husband-wife dynamics.
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When we got down to the social history, the guy turned out to be a regular drinker. Imagine that. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be sober to deal with a delightful woman like her everyday? To understand this dynamic better, I researched the net and found this interesting article: Top 10 Signs She’s a Bitch. Oddly enough, the first comment to that article was written by a man who called himself F@&k Me who wrote: “what happens when you’ve been married to one for 17 years, and just can’t take it anymore?”. I guess my patient was asking himself the same question everyday as he cried into his drink.

Internet Date Goes Horribly Wrong

April 23, 2009

You're hot An interesting thing happened last weekend. My own Romeo and Juliette … from Hell that is.  We had two patients come in from a car accident by EMS. Here is their story; a story that deserves a movie deal, or at least a Saturday Night Live skit.

John and Peggy.

John, a portly 275lb, unemployed alcoholic was looking for love. But unfortunately, love wasn’t look back in his direction. So he tried the internet. Peggy, an equally portly 255lb, gainfully employed assistant manager was having trouble finding the right man and also thought to try her luck on the internet. It was a match made in heaven, or at least in Heaven-Hill.

Their love on-line seemed to blossom, until they could hold themselves back no longer and just had to meet. John unfortunately had a suspended license (damn DUI’s), so Peggy would have to go and pick him up. They decided to go someplace exotic, someplace intriguing, a place where they could look deep into each other’s eyes and hear one another’s sweet words. They decided to go to a bar.

At the bar, they drank and drank. Maybe they imagined that the alcohol would make them appear more enticing (ahh, the famed beer goggle).

They hoped for the arrows of Cupid to pierce deeply into their hearts, but instead they discovered that the alcohol only brought on the spear of Ares (Roman god of war). Their arguments led them to decide that maybe it was best to go home. But Peggy was nice enough to at least drive the drunk and stupid John home.  John, alcohol having removed his ever so thin veil of “niceness”, told Peggy she needed to take a certain route to get him home.

Peggy, on the other hand, thought that John’s liquor was talking instead of his “brain”, and she decided to take another road to get him back to his hometown. I guess her route would have eventually gotten him home if they had driven long enough in such a great circle, but we will never know the answer to that intriguing question. Why?

Because poor John became so angry at his dear Peggy on their way home, that he decided to grab the steering wheel at 50 mph and spin it around. He apparently thought that this would be a good idea and help put her on the “right road” as he tells it. Unfortunately for our dear couple, the car rolled and landed in a ditch awaiting the fine men and women of EMS.

Upon arriving, EMS immediately recognized that they were in the middle of a love nest and decided to transport our  Romeo and Juliette together in the same ambulance. Although it sounded to everyone else like they were arguing and blaming each other, as well as calling each other @$%&*# and the ever-endearing ?*&$%#!, I’m sure that this was just John and Peggy’s own special love code. We on the other hand in the ED had to give them separate rooms. That didn’t stop them from yelling at each other across the hall though. Oh no, love like that just can’t be stopped.

They were both drunk – John weighing in at an alcohol level of .31 and Peggy (the driver) coming in a close second with a .20. State Police was present to give them citations by which they could immortalize their first date. Who knows, maybe they may even consider tying the knot when they show up for their court date. Although some may see Peggy losing her license for drinking and driving as a tragedy, my sentimental side sees it as an opportunity for them to take long, romantic walks along the highway together.

At the end of it all, it turns out that even though John was chomping at the bit to leave and get out of his spine precautions, the poor soul had suffered a broken neck. Yep, a good old C2 fracture. It would be a wonderful reminder of his first date with Peggy. Peggy would only end up with a few scrapes and bruises to remind her of their first meeting though. Ahh, a first date to remember. Just hope I’m not around for their next one!

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* Note – a case like this illustrates the great importance of radiographically clearing a C-spine when you are dealing with an intoxicated patient. Don’t be misled by their lack of pain and get a good radiographic exam.