I don’t know if I have written about the most interesting patient I have ever had.
I was working as an Emergency medicine Dr. ( Loved the adrenaline rush, hated to write death certificates)
I was on call that night along with another Dr, who was writing his DNB exam. He asked if I could handle the work load on my own, so he could study for his exams..
Usually there is a a lull in admissions between 12 and 3 am and I told him sure. Besides he was still in the same building and I could always call him if I need him.
Nurses were in the next room, talking to each other.
The attendant was sleeping on one of the beds and I was reading a book.
Then all hell broke loose.
The room was full of nurses, all talking at the same time..
they rushed in a patient and then someone told me
“She is a staff and she tried to commit suicide by drinking mercury”
“What? what did she take?” I asked again, just to make sure that I am not imagining.
The usual culprits in suicide are poisons, kerosene etc.. Mercury??
“She broke the bp apparatus and drank the mercury”
I had never seen a Mercury poisoning case before..I ran to get my colleague and updated him.
We checked her vitals, all good.
We reconfirmed the details.
Then we both looked at each other. What do you do to treat mercury poisoning? Is there an antidote?
No one to knew how to treat a mercury poisoning..
Then I remembered, the dept had an emergency medicine manual. I took the book out, checked for mercury poisoning..right under the words treatment for mercury poisoning…there was a telephone number..a US telephone number that said call this number if you ever find a mercury poisoning case..
But the patient survived and I learned how to treat mercury poisoning.
I met her before she was discharged..In the mid 90’s, shrinks weren’t that popular..you figured a way to deal with your problems..and I wanted her to know that I am there for her and that she is not alone.
What I remember the most about her when I met her that day.. was her hair..She had the most gorgeous long hair in two plaits..( The most beautiful part of humanity you will always find among nurses..they standby each other..sharing the work load, changing the rosters to help someone..and in this case, the whole bunch of nurses took care of my patient..bringing her home cooked meals, combing her hair and practically pampering her)
when she was discharged. She took few days of leave and one day she came to the emergency dept to say Thank you to me.
She had cut her hair..it was so short..
The new her..
She was trying to exorcise the ghosts..I knew that feeling..
I cut my hair..
It was not easy..Not least because my hair stylist who is also a very close friend, refused to cut my hair.
She insisted that I would regret cutting my beautiful long hair and she didn’t want to be a part of my misery.
It took a while to convince her that it is just hair and it will grow eventually..( of course, I could have gone to another stylist..but she is my friend and as a single mother, she needs the money especially during the holiday season)
We had a bottle of bubbly ( advantage of a stylist working from home) bitched about the men in our life..
somewhere along the line, the new me was created.
I wanted a very short hair style..and ended up with shoulder length hair..
One ghost is exorcised.. many to go..