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The Tantrum That Never Came And The Husband Who Stopped It

, , , , , , , | Healthy | October 15, 2021

It was 7:30, and I’d dropped into my local pharmacy in order to grab a prescription on the way home. I went back to the pharmacy counter and saw a woman hovering around the counter, wearing a mask, so I did as I always do and stayed a safe distance back to wait. She turned to me, immediately, and I realized I was in for something interesting, as she immediately asked me if I was there for a vaccine. I simply replied that I was there to pick up a prescription, and I could tell from the way she turned from me that she was trying to find someone to complain to. Her attitude radiated impatience and a little entitlement, so I was ready for fireworks.

After a moment, a man came around the corner and started talking to the woman; it turned out that he was her husband. He had been looking for something on the shelves and couldn’t find it but was going to check again since they were still waiting; she requested he stay at the counter because he was “better at talking” than she was. He told her to just call for him when the pharmacists got to them and headed back off to go find whatever it was he needed.

She then proceeded to start making “ugh” huffing noises, like she was scoffing at the wait already, but she did it so often there was hardly a second between her scoffing noises. It was like a mini-tantrum to herself. I don’t know how long they’d waited before I arrived, but I had only been there for maybe two minutes, and I’ve been to the pharmacy enough to know their wait times at the counter didn’t tend to be long if there wasn’t a line, so there was almost no way she’d been waiting more than a few minutes before I arrived, as the counter and back half were empty except for a car or two outside.

After another second, the head pharmacist/doctor in charge approached the counter to ask what they needed, and she called for her husband in a clipped tone before starting off anyway without waiting for him to get back to her. 

Woman: “We’re here for our boosters.” 

Doctor: *Not unkindly* “We don’t take walk-ins after 1:00 pm, and we don’t have appointments after 7:00.” 

He could tell they didn’t have an appointment without having to ask, considering the hour, and his tone was mostly confused and a little concerned, like maybe they’d managed to book an appointment anyway and he was about to have to deal with a massive system issue. He was clearly anticipating fallout, either way. The woman opened her mouth, and I could hear the complaint starting in her throat through the half-second of tone she got out.

Then, her husband cut her off, emphatically and in a volume and tone that were almost teacher-voice-like. 

Husband: “No. He is telling us what he can and cannot do.” 

He then turned to the pharmacist and, in a pleasant tone, asked again about walk-in times so he knew when best to come back. The pharmacist walked him through using the app to make an appointment and clarified what vaccine they needed the booster for. The husband seemed almost pointedly pleasant when he talked, like he was making a point to his wife about how you talk to people when you can’t get your way. She didn’t say anything else except to ask what vaccine they had because, apparently, another of the same pharmacy carried the other kind, and when they left, they left quietly and with no further tantrums.

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No Pain, No Gain

, , , | Healthy | October 1, 2021

I’m a dentist. Sometimes we can’t fix teeth without extractions. When that happens and there’s no other viable option, we make prosthetics for the patients — basically dentures. It’s never a perfect option, but in the vast majority of cases, the patients are happy with them after a necessary touch-up and around two weeks of wear to get accustomed to their new prosthetics. You absolutely NEED to bear the discomfort for those two weeks if you ever want to get used to them.

I have this conversation on a weekly basis.

A patient calls in two weeks after being given the dentures.

Patient: “Those dentures don’t fit me. I can’t eat/talk/do backflips with them, and they hurt.”

Me: “Pain is normal during the first few weeks; I’ll fix that for you. How long did you wear them for?”

Patient: “I could only handle three hours!”

Me: “Yeah, I might see why they don’t seem to work…”

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Have A Heart, Not A Fake Heart Attack

, , , , | Healthy | September 25, 2021

We have a non-emergency centre in our city; anyone can walk up and be seen, but after a certain time, it isn’t fully staffed. Then, you have to call them first and they will confirm whether they can see you there or refer you to the nearby emergency centre at the hospital. Or, they just tell you to take it up with your general doctor.

There are no costs or waiting times, and it’s clear on the website and signs are plastered over the centre, yet people still don’t get it.

I call ahead and ask to come in. As I walk the path, a couple is having a conversation in hushed tones.

Woman: “You are not listening; they won’t see you.”

Man: “No, but when we get there, I will pretend to have chest pains. They can’t refuse to see me then!”

Woman: “Oh, good idea.”

I follow them to the door. The man immediately grabs his chest and staggers to a nearby bench, draping himself over it like a Renaissance painting. The woman presses the intercom.

Intercom: “Did you ring ahead?”

Woman: “No, but my husband is having chest pains.”

Intercom: “Is it bad? Is he having any problems breathing, confusion?”

Woman: “Well, yes, a little.”

Intercom: “Okay. I will call an ambulance. Stay there and someone will come out in a second.”

Woman: “No, no no, it’s not really that bad.”

Intercom: “No, is he having issues breathing?”

Woman: “Err, no. But his foot hurts. He dropped something on it earlier.”

Intercom: *Sighs* “If it is only his foot, he needs to call the number and they will assess him.”

Woman: “But his foot really does hurt.”

Intercom: “And if you ring the number, someone will talk it through with him.”

The woman says something quietly.

Intercom: “Call the number like everyone else has. There is a queue of people that need our help and you are stopping us from helping them.”

Woman: “He needs help! We are not leaving this spot.”

Intercom: “Call the number. They will diagnose you; it isn’t urgent so you can do that. If you refuse to move, you will be arrested.”

The woman went back to her husband, who miraculously stopped clutching his chest, and they walked off. He didn’t even have a limp.

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To Be Fair, They’re Very Different Kinds Of Needles

, , , , | Healthy | September 23, 2021

In the early 2000s, while waiting for my doctor’s appointment, I witnessed this incident.

Another patient, a woman in her twenties, came out from the back exam area with a nurse. The patient was wearing a common and trendy outfit of low-rise sweatpants and a crop tank top.

The nurse handed the patient her paperwork.

Nurse: “You need to make a follow-up appointment for [number] weeks. The receptionist can help you if you want to do it now.”

As she grabbed her paperwork, the patient responded:

Patient: “Ugh! Do I have to? I hate needles.”

The patient then walked quickly out of the office. As she did so, I could see that among the small collection of tattoos she had was a trendy one on her tailbone. The nurse looked bemused but unsurprised and returned to the back. I managed to mind my manners and not laugh or giggle.

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Instagramedical Emergency

, , , , , | Healthy | CREDIT: AleksFenix96 | September 3, 2021

I work as a paramedic in a small town in northern Germany, thirty kilometers away from the next big city. Sometimes we need to bring patients to the big city.

It is a hot and busy day, we roll the first six hours through the whole city, mostly taking care of small issues that just require transport. After the first real emergency, a car crash that needed transport to the mentioned bigger city, we are putting our stuff back together at the hospital.

Not even one minute after setting our status to “free for calls,” the dispatch has something for us.

Dispatch: “Woman, around twenty years old, feeling unwell, no more information.”

That means it could be anything, from toe pain to cardiac arrest.

After a ten-minute drive with “lights and music,” we arrive and ring at the door. The patient’s boyfriend comes to the door, recording video on his phone.

Patient’s Boyfriend: “Hey, guys, the ambulance came very quick. They even had sirens on!”

My partner and I exchange “What the f***?” looks.

Me: “Good day. We were called to [Patient]. Are we in the right place?”

Patient’s Boyfriend: *Still filming* “Yeah, come in, guys. That’s going to be great.”

Me: *Thinking* “What in the f*** is wrong here?”

We go in to find the young woman lying on the couch. She’s really thin — we can see some of her bones — and unresponsive. While my partner is checking her blood pressure, pulse, etc., and I am getting the monitor (EKG) ready, I ask the boyfriend what the matter is.

Patient’s Boyfriend: *Still filming us* “She was filming her sport tutorial for her Instagram followers and suddenly fainted. She is on a new diet; she just looks too fat.”

Me: “Has she eaten or drunk anything today? And could you please put the phone down?”

Patient’s Boyfriend: “Just a little bowl of cereal and a glass of orange juice. No, I don’t need to put it down. These ‘blue light stories’ are epic on Instagram.”

We are interrupted by an alarm sound from the monitor. The patient’s blood pressure is worryingly low. And the rest of her vitals don’t look good, either.

Partner: “We need a doctor here.”

In Germany, we can call doctors to the scene if we need to give special medications or make invasive treatments. I call the doctor.

Me: “Mr. [Patient’s Boyfriend], stop filming. Your girlfriend is in critical condition.”

Patient’s Boyfriend: “Nah, man, this is going to be huge. She will love it to put it on her YouTube.”

Partner: *Sarcastically* “Yeah, the ‘How I Nearly Died’ vlog. Absolutely great idea.”

I prepare to put a needle in the patient’s arm. The boyfriend comes so close that he hits me and I nearly stab myself. That is the boiling point. I am now really pissed.

Me: *Calm but a bit louder and clearer* “If you don’t back off and put the phone down, I will get the police here and they will take care of it. You don’t understand, do you? Your girlfriend is lying here with bad blood pressure, oxygen, and pulse. I’m really worried that we are close to needing CPR. Even our doctor is on the way. So back off and put the phone down or the police will really take care of it.”

Patient’s Boyfriend: “Sorry, I can’t. This is my work.”

My partner and I exchange looks again.

Me: “All right, I’m calling the police.”

A few minutes after that, the doctor arrived. He was annoyed by the boyfriend, too, and told him to go away, but he still didn’t listen.

A few more minutes later, the cops came and made him delete all the footage. They stood with him outside until we went to the hospital.

We managed to get the patient to the ICU. She made it and is now in good hands. Hopefully, she dumped her boyfriend.

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