Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Three Drunks and a Nazi

First order of the day for a portable chest x-ray comes out of the printer. I look at the form, and see that it’s for a young guy, in his early thirties. I grab a 14X17 cassette, and turn on the portable. Drive it into the ER, and park at his bed. Whoa. How old is this guy? His feet are swollen, and his abdomen is distended. His belly is so round, and the skin so tight & shiny, that it can only mean one thing: ascites. Also, if your left foot, only, is swollen, I’m assuming that you have cardiac or circulatory issues. Both feet—how’s yer liver? Sure enough, it turns out that this guy’s liver is a disaster. Well, actually, he has this liver-shaped thing in his abdomen that got tired of the nightly 12-packs, and finally gave him the middle finger.

I’m used to seeing this in 60 year old homeless guys, not a 32 year old.

Bartender, I’ll have another.

Later on, I’m cruising by this other guy’s bed, on the way to x-ray an old lady. ER doc asks the guy who fell and cut himself how much alcohol he’s had today. Guy says, “A couple.” ER doc asks him how much he smokes. Guy asks, “Uh...cigarettes?”

Oh, dude.  That was not a multiple-choice question. I’d say more, but I just realized that I have to return that Cheech & Chong movie to the video store.

Oh man, now I have the munchies!

Request comes out of the printer for a tib-fib on a 2 year old. I get there, and the kid has been strapped down in a papoose. I love the guy who invented that thing: it’s a board with Velcro straps, for holding down little kids who don’t want to get an i.v. started, put or stitches put in. He’s a little guy, and the open wound on his leg is a couple inches wide. I can see deep inside his leg, while the med student is looking around for f.b.

Glenn, a nurse with big arm muscles that are the envy of the hospital, is holding the tot down.

I start talking with the mom, who has a pissed-off look on her face.

“What happened?”

“He was playing in the grass, and landed on a broken beer bottle. It was the same color as the grass.”


She nods in agreement.

One of these days I'll tell the Heineken story.  It's either proof that I'm not a real man, or a real Hungarian.  Or both.  My wife doesn't even know about what happened on that foggy night in Holland.

A series of images flash through my mind: Her husband, a loser, was out drinking on the lawn with his friends in the dark, last night, and didn’t clean up after themselves. Better yet, the neighborhood gang members stood around, drinking, daring anybody to tell them to take it somewhere else. Either way, I felt bad for the kid, but not because of the gash on his leg that was getting sewn together by a medical student with trembling hands—I pictured the kid being condemned to the same endless cycle of poverty and ignorance, growing up in a neighborhood where it’s okay to toss beer bottles.

I ran into my German friend, Tanja, on the train, today. Told her I had just watched a movie about Germans in Germany, but the British and American actors spoke English, and the books they read were written in English. I wonder if they’ll dub it into German. Actors in Europe are typically multi-lingual, and it’s not unheard of for them to dub their own roles in French, German, or Italian, after filming in another language. The movie, titled The Reader is simply awesome. Go out and rent it today. Although it takes place in Germany, this isn’t another one of those movies about the Nazis, World War II, etc that we’ve already seen. The story is unique, yet universal. The story of the boy protagonist and his girlfriend (can we earnestly call her the antagonist?) could effortlessly be transported to the American Civil War, or Imperial Japan. I highly recommend this film.

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