Publications: Santa Barbara Writers Project (Horsing Around), AfterNoon
Listen. This hospital, I'm telling you. One day the Hospital Commission's gonna come through and shut it right down. It's like, I mean, these people, all they care about is the paper work gets done right.
You never have time to do your job. All you're doing is documenting stuff--forms, reports, summaries. Documenting the documents.
For instance, look what happened on Three-North today with this old woman. She gets moved in here, and some guy visiting her lights up a cigar, and it sets off the smoke alarm.
It wouldn't of happened neither, except for the grease fire in the kitchen last month, but that's a whole other story. You see, this grease fire happened because they got these dog-leg vents on the grill.
Look, Harris might be the boss, but that doesn't mean he's got what you call common sense. He's a dumb-ass pencil-pusher--spends his time checking up on you, plus he's--blah-de-blah--get me this report and that report. Always walking around like he's got a stick up his butt about something.
I tell him, I say, hey, them vents are nothing but trouble. But, oh, no, don't listen to me. I only got thirty years experience in hospital maintenance. What do I know?
So sure enough, the number three vent, the one right over the grill, it catches fire; belching out all kinds of smoke, and the fire department comes. (What a mess. We was up until three AM scrubbing soot off the walls.) Anyway, the point is none of the smoke alarms went off.
I tell you what. If I said it once, I said it a hundred times, I said, hey, there should be an a detector at least twenty foot from the grill, but oh no, they don't listen to me. Harris, he's so smart. His solution--get this--is to order the sensitivity settings cranked up to max on all the smoke detectors in the whole hospital. You know what that does? Right. Anything sets them off.
So this guy, he lights up a cigar, and sure enough--"bee-bee-bee"--the alarm starts to wailing, and the fire department comes. This is the fifth false alarm since dumb-ass Harris messed with them alarms. So, after the fire guys get through, I get called to re-calibrate the alarm in this room.
So, I'm in there, and I look, and this old woman, she don't look too good. I mean white as a sheet, and she's out of it, like mumbling or something.
So anyway I figure I'll just take a peek at her chart, and whoa, hold the phone, Benton just done a polypectomy on her. Oh, man, Benton, what a butcher. I'll tell you what. If they wheeled me in here half dead, and I found out Benton was doing my case, I'd go flying off that gurney and out the door in a minute. So, I check her pulse, and it's one-twenty; BP, ninety over sixty.
Benton, if he was killing a hog in the slaughter house, he'd screw it up, and the pig would live.
So, I'm thinking this is serious, and I lift the sheets. Man, what a mess. Looks like she lost a pint of blood right there in the bed.
Now I'm getting real, like, I mean, this is real serious, and I'm trying to figure, what'd Benton do this time? I remember this once, he jams the scope right through the bowel wall, and he's looking at the omentum, and he goes, this ain't right.
Ain't right? I'll say it ain't right. That patient, they had to rush him up to surgery, and he almost croaked right there on the table.
Wanna hear a joke? OK, if they had an almost grave yard? It'd be full of people that almost croaked because Benton was their doctor. That's a good one. Old Doc Bradley, he told that to me.
So Benny Squires is on with me that afternoon, and he's down in the boiler room fiddle-farting around, and I get on the line to him, and I say, look, get your ass up to Endo, stat. Bring me the emergency cart and two units of packed RBC's.
By now the old lady's out like a light, pulse up to one-fifty, and BP down to eighty over thirty. So I'm setting up an IV, and Benny comes running in with the cart, and, I look, and he got the wrong tubing. I tell ya, that Benny, he's none too bright, so I start yelling, Benny, you dumb-ass, the blood tubing, and he says, well, how should I know? So he goes back for that, and I gotta set up by myself--not that Benny's all that much help in the first place. I'll give you a good example. Last week Benny installs an exhaust fan in Surgery One, and he wires it up backwards so's it's blowing exhaust from the parking garage right into the OR.
Jeez, what a dumb-ass.
So like I said, there I am with the old lady, and I gotta set up by myself. God, you wouldn't believe it. What a smell--I mean blood and poop all over the place--oh yeah, I almost forgot the best part about Benny and the fan. Get this: So he's done wiring the thing up backwards, and he turns it on to test it, and when the fan goes on, he figures it's working, so he packs up his tools and leaves. Car exhaust is pouring in and everything. I mean, it never dawns on him.
So finally, I get the blood going, and the scope's all ready, but now her BP's almost down to nothing, her pulse is real faint, and I'm afraid I might have to call a code. So Benny, he says we better give her epinephrine. Oh yeah, that's real smart, why not just shoot her and be done with it? So I call for dopamine, and Benny gives it to her, and I crank up the blood until finally she's stabilized.
Then I tell Benny to have the bicap ready, and I start to feeding in the scope. I tell the old lady, I say, OK, I'm inserting the scope in your rectum, and you may feel a little pressure, but she's so out of it she thinks it's some new ride at Disneyland or something.
Anyways, I'm trying to focus this stupid Olympus eye-piece, and finally, I'm about thirty centimeters in, and there's the artery, blood gushing out like Old Faithful. Benton--what a butcher--he must of grazed it when he went in, and it started to bleeding later from her moving around and stuff.
That brings me to another thing about this hospital: They don't wanna spend no money unless it's on something stupid like decorating. Here I am, all this blood, and what I need is a double-channel scope, but no, it ain't in the budget, and here's this woman, she's getting real close to croaking, and I gotta do what I can with just a therapeutic scope.
So I tell Benny, I say, OK, gimme the ten French probe, and I run it down the channel. I set it on five continuous to zap the bleeding.
Well luckily, that done the trick. I mean, it ain't always that easy.
So then we got all this clean-up, but now the old lady's coming around, and she starts freaking out. I mean you couldn't hardly believe it. One minute she's about croaked, and the next she's screaming and yelling about the scope.
So now she's getting really combative, and she nearly yanks out her IV, and then she's pulling on the scope before I can get it out. And Benny--some help he is--he just stands there, and I'm yelling, God damn it, Benny, give her half a mil of Versed, and he goes, he says, you sure that's a good idea after she just near croaked like that? And I tell him, well, Doctor Squires, if we would of gave her the epinephrine like you said, she probably would of croaked.
What an idiot. So he gives her the Versed, and we get her all settled down and cleaned up, and she's fine.
There's your what you call the moral of the story: Benton The Butcher, another case where he gets his stupid ass saved again.
So Benny, he goes back to Endo to wash the scope, plus he's gotta do the floors down on One-South before he punches out. Me, there's some problem over in X-Ray--a circuit breaker keeps flipping off, and they're bugging me to get over there and fix it; but Harris is on my ass to write up the incident report on the smoke detector, plus I gotta do all the charting on this old lady.
So there you have it. This hospital, all they care about, just be sure the paper work gets done right.
Previously Published with Santa Barbara Writers Project