A Look Back at the Noughties–Episode 3

I remember August 14th, 2010, pretty vividly as I was doing a medical school rotation in the ER.  It was a rather slow morning, so I managed to catch a bit of the morning news.  A few of the bigger stories were Obama’s endorsement of the mosque next to the World Trade Center site, the BP oil spill, and the end of the swine flu pandemic.  Obama’s endorsement of the Mosque was of particular interest to me for two reasons: my apartment at the time was across from ground zero and I was dating an Islamic girl.  I commended Obama for such an endorsement, it took courage and although it wasn’t an election year, I’m sure he lost more than a few votes for his words.  The protests continued around the neighborhood long after his endorsement, but they certainly dwindled down for the remainder of the year.  My girlfriend at the time was quite passionate about the issue.  She was originally born in Iran and moved to America at the age of ten.  I found her stories of growing up in the revolution fascinating, and her passion for her beliefs and culture endearing.  It was shortly after I met her that I began to learn Farsi and more about the countries out east that before I had thought to be “the axis of evil.”  I remember her being very upset that Iran did not have a team in the World Cup that summer due to some political bullshit.  She cheered on the USA with me, but refused to call them “her” team or use the word “us.”  Anyway, I remember texting her about Obama and the mosque to which he responded with a colon and a bracket to form a smiley face.

Things got very busy in the ER that afternoon and the day flew by.  It was around 6pm we received a gunshot victim from the Bronx.  The patient did not appear to have any internal bleeding but his entrance and exit wound were so close to the kidney that we sent him for a STAT MRI.  As luck would have it, the MRI went down 5 minutes before we arrived and so my attending physician asked me to take an ambulance ride with the patient to another hospital uptown.  Now before I go further, I should mention that my attending physician was a fifty-year-old Chinese woman named Dr. Chen, where as I am a twenty-eight-year-old male Irish medical student.  This is worth mentioning because it was before hopping in the ambulance that Dr. Chen handed me two things, a blood pressure cuff and her ID badge, and said “Put on this badge and check the patients blood pressure until you get to the hospital, if it drops you’re in trouble.”  Before I could ask how the hell anyone would take me for a little old Chinese woman or what I should do if the patient’s blood pressure dropped, she slammed the ambulance door and I was on my way.

I must have checked the patient’s blood pressure a hundred times in that ambulance ride, I’ve never been so scared.  It felt like an hour, but when I look back on it, I realize it was an incredibly short trip since I only heard one song on the way.  The song was Billionaire by Travie McCoy, and I remember the driver singing a very out of tune version as I frantically checked the patient’s blood pressure again and again.  Luckily the patient’s pressure never dropped.  It’s interesting what a year of medical school can do, because if it were today I would have no problem in that situation, but a year ago I was scared shitless.  So I arrived in the ambulance bay at the hospital uptown to be greeted by the ER attending and several eager young medical students.  As I gave the attending the patient’s history and transferred the patient to a gurney, I noticed him glance at my ID badge and then curiously look up at my face.  “Your name is Dr. Chen?” he said with a smirk.  I gave him a deer in headlights look and before I could think of what to say, he said “Don’t worry, happens all the time.”

The MRI showed that the bullet missed the kidney and there was no other internal damage.  The patient was released the next day and went on to have a full recovery.  The rest of my day was pretty uneventful in comparison.  I was released roughly around midnight to go home and catch a few hours of sleep before having to be back there at 6am.  As I walked to the subway to go back to my now former apartment, I texted my now ex-girlfriend.  I asked her how her day was and she asked me about mine.  This was our usual end of day routine. I couldn’t really think how to sum mine up so I simply responded with 🙂.

Get to know…David Scott.


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