Monday, May 16, 2005

Plucked from the jaws of danger...

.... then coated with sauce and garnished with a bit of parsley and forced down the throat of even more danger.

Bit of a wild time at Florey. We had a big brawl down at the Drowning Neuron or whatever the local pub is called, and as usual the victims were brought to us. Unfortunately, there were victims from both sides (orcs of Saruman and of Mordor), and the victim's girlfriends and mates from both sides, and so the atmosphere in the waiting room was already pre-ignition, and then when more drunks from a third party turned up it was all on.

It started with glowering and gurning, progressed to muttered obscenities and within half an hour we had called a code yellow (internal emergency) because there was this large crowd of people outside kicking at the doors trying to get in and finish what they had started.

Meanwhile inside the actual ED, Smacked in the Head a Bit (Cubicle 12) had got out of his bed and went over to remonstrate with Punched in the Kidneys (Cubicle 10), and Punched to the Ground and Repeatedly Kicked (Cubicle 8) was trying to get into cubicle 4, taunted by drunken bellows from Glass vs Head, Denies Loss of Consciousness, Appears Intoxicated. Mrs Punched in the Kidneys and Smacked in the Head a Bit, Jr. had already been taken away by the police, and in the background you could hear Smacked in the Head Bigtime was explaining how he didn't want stitches, he wanted to go outside and smack some bastard out, then we'd be able to do stictches.

This reminded me of the only other Code Yellow I had been involved in. For your information, here is Florey's current Code list:

Code Black: Violence - move quickly and quietly away from relevant area.

Code Blue: Cardio-respiratory arrest - move quickly and quietly towards relevant area.

Code Red: Fire or smoke

Code Yellow: Internal Emergency - see below

Code Brown: External Emergency - like a bus roll-over outside, meaning expect hundreds of patients.

Code Green: woman having baby somewhere unexpected, like in the lift. I know an amusing story about this, for later.

There is also my addition to the Code codex: the Code Beige. This is when regulations demand a code be called and certain actions carried out but all those concerned can see the code is crap. Some of the ambulance teams are not empowered to declare someone dead, and so are compelled to commence and continue resuscitation, in the face of overwhelming evidence of its futility, until a death can be certified by doctor. When you see the ambos amble in, one hand idly patting the vast sternum of a man in advanced rigor mortis, the other occasionally squeezing a bag to blow oxygen into his mouth, then you are seeing a Code Beige.

The only other Code Yellow I was involved in was last year, with the Vampire of Morbing Vyle. He was a strongly built young man, well known to the local psychiatric and police services. He did not, as far as I can see, have any of the classic mental illnesses, except on those occasions when he had too much alcohol, too much marijuana or a very little bit of speed. And the time Collingwood lost the Grand Final.

I don't like to say this, but he was a Very Bad Man. He had attacked one of the security guards in the car-park, leaping out with a Halloween mask and a screw-driver, with both suffering considerable injuries in the process. He had stabbed his friend's dog to death, probably raped a psychiatric patient while in a ward, had restraining orders out on him at Shipman and the Royal, set fire to a car with some homeless guy inside and was generally a deeply unpleasant man.

It is depressing that he gets classified on the triage sheet as "Psych", along with the many deeply decent people and normal people who struggle to cope with schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and depression. But anyway.

The Vampire of Morbing Vyle was so called because, and I swear to God that I am not making this up, when he stabbed his friend's dog to death he had drank its blood, and he had had his teeth cosmetically sharpened into little points (which may nor may not have given him his slight lisp) and several of his psychiatric reports from his (brief and unhelpful) psychiatric admissions stated he believed himself to be a vampire and to require human blood for sustenance.

Anyway, TVOMV was in the cubicle, being seen by muggins me about his anger management issues (security guard standing ten feet away outside the cubicle and me smiling and looking calm and concerned and holding my pen in a 'look at me funny and this pen will go in through your lung and pierce your aorta' manner, and he was going to leave, and they called a code somethingorother somewhere else and we all went off.

Then we looked and he was not there. And then the security guard came running out down the corridor saying that the someone had apparently stood on the toilet in the men's cubicle and moved one of the big ceiling tiles across and possibly - just possibly - escaped into the ceiling.

So, the next three hours we were on code yellow. That meant we went around in pairs, got all the movable patients into rooms where we could almost guarantee a hundred kilo lisping vampire in a Slipknot Tee-shirt would not drop down from the ceiling and attack them, and spent every spare minute glancing upward, like religious martyrs in a Renaissance tableau or flying saucer devotees.

I was paired with Annabelle, a tiny, forty kilo nurse with an assertive personality and a high degree of resuscitation skills. She would have been no good in a fight, but if things did go awry, she would be almost certainly be able to help resuscitate me.

Three hours, by the way, was the time required for the police to review the tape which showed the Morbing Vyle Vampire after discharge buying a wagon wheel from the waiting room vending machine and unconcernedly strolling out into the night.

Anyway, half way through this we were all huddled in the fishbowl, listening to the occasional thumping, dragging and whispering noises many of us swore we could hear from the ceiling, and I said "My God, this is what paranoid schizophrenia must be like."

Seriously, that kind of thing leaves you awestruck with admiration for people who can go around with those fears, those nameless noises, that certainty of being watched by malignant forces, and still lead some kind of life.

Schizophrenics of the world, we salute you.


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