There is a fine line between being assertive and being obnoxious.
The tiny blonde mother driving the enormous white Cadillac Escalade (Moby Dick) who was reversing out of her parking spot directly in front of me and walloped her brake pedal quite obviously when her back-up sensors told her she was getting too close, causing me to laugh uproariously in my own car demonstrated that very well. Yelling angrily, “What the hell are you laughing at?! Why don’t I hit your car??”
Lady, I drive a fourteen year old Nissan held together with rubber bands and primer. Hit it if you like.
But why on earth should you care if I laugh?
Then there’s the obnoxious patient who thinks that his sore throat or her ingrown toenail is the biggest emergency in the room. Never mind the six-car pile-up, do I have strep, doc? I hear it can be pretty nasty (it is, but puh-lease!)….
Montreal had the dubious distinction of being the site of a shooting rampage a few months back. The local trauma centre did a fantastic job of clearing the ER and the ORs as soon as it became clear that the situation was not to involve just two or three people, and that everyone would be needed to deal with critically injured people.
On the surgery service a few days later, I encountered a gentleman who was presenting from home with a hernia. Reducible with difficulty. Causing more symptoms than usual.
He’s had the hernia for ages, he’s on the list for elective surgery. In the next month or so, not such a long wait. He says, “I was here a few days ago, but I got transferred to a different hospital. But all my charts are here, my surgeon is here. They didn’t do anything for me there, so I left after being in the emergency department for 18 hours.”
And I say, “That’s very unusual.” All the while flipping through his chart trying to figure out why that would have happened.
He says, “I don’t know why they had to send me over there.”
And then I notice the dates, the day of the shootings. So I ask him if he knows about what happened that day. And he says yes, he was here when the first ambulances came in. And it was a real shame about all that. But what does that have to do with anything?
But today. Today in the oncology clinic I saw an old dear, 82 I think, who is undergoing chemo for metastatic colon cancer. Again.
Her belly is criscrossed with scars from colon and liver resections.
She just got over pneumonia. And thanks to the antibiotics she had to take for the pneumonia, she picked up a gastro. Vomiting and diarrhea, 15lb weight loss in a couple of weeks overall.
She’s been back on track for three days now. Eating and the food is staying put.
She said two things: “I beat this cancer before, I’ll beat it again.”
And “It feels so good to be well again.”