Thursday, July 07, 2005

Loud sounds from near quarters

The other night I experienced an incredible sensation, a mixture of delight and pain the memory of which still makes me smile and wince simultaneously. It was this, an adorable baby shrieking happily. Sure, you've seen cute kids and heard they're high-pitched yelps, but this child and the noises she made are several orders of magnitude greater than I have previously experienced.

Imagine a cherubic face, bright eyes, and a smile that could conceivably turn Karl Rove away from the dark side. This baby was cuter than that. Now imagine a pterodactyl loosing a vicious cry as it drives off a rival suitor. This baby's voice was more ear-piercingly painful. Clearly the child was exhibiting early signs of being a mutant with superpowers.

Another night we were treated to the periodic, stentorian exhortations of a woman off her psychiatric meds. Despite being in a room with a closed door, you could hear her throughout most of the ER. She would go on for 15 minutes or so, then quiet down for a bit before going on another tirade, the main topics of which were God, people bothering her, and the fact that the door to her room was closed. All reasonable topics that could be argued coherently. However, she sounded like this:

"Gaw blah hibba! God friltcha said the door is closed! Abba. Aieeeeee!"

She was also rather uncooperative with the medical staff. When asked to drink some Gatordade, she had been shouting on and off for 6 hours after all, she said in a scandalized voice, "I'm a Christian!" Turns out this was her response to most requests.

I feel for the medical staff. When I have to register a patient like this, I can just write, "Patient is altered, unable to answer questions or sign paperwork," and my work is practically done. The med staff have to persevere in communicating with the patient and treating them. I don't look forward to this part of the job.

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