Friday was another 12 hour shift in Midsize Non-Trauma Center's ED, and while there were only two people I would actually be able to label "True Emergencies" all shift, there were some VERY interesting cases in other ways, which was impressive given that when I walked in at 645, there were NO PATIENTS IN THE DEPARTMENT. I curled up on one of the swivelly chairs and DIDNT SAY ANYTHING for fear of jinxing it, but as predicted, the "quiet" (oh no! i typed it!) only lasted about half an hour.
The first truly bizarre/awful case of the day was a 500 some-odd pound man, brought in for, ironically "failure to thrive". This MUST only be a social designation, since in neonates "failure to thrive" means they're LITTLE...not this particular gentleman's problem. His problem was bilateral cellulitis of the lower legs. REALLY GROSS cellulitis of the lower legs. They were wrapped in biohazard bags by the medics, who promptly ran outside and started shaking their clothes off on arrival...which is NEVER a good sign. Apparently this gentleman had ROACHES LIVING IN HIS SKIN FOLDS.
The truly odd thing about this large man was that he was COMPLETELY LUCID, and convinced that we were "making a big deal out of nothing!". He was caked in dirt, apparently from "pulling himself across the floor" which he didn't seem to think was a problem in and of itself, and was FURIOUS that he'd been taken out of his house. It took us (me, my partner and three Real Nurses) almost an hour to get him all cleaned up. He was really quite polite, and seemed lucid, albiet with a HUGE blind spot about how bad his house and hygeine really were. He was admitted to med-surg, for placement in assisted living, and may lose both his legs to gangrene.
I learned that the smell of gangrene actually does not upset me nearly as much as I had originally thought. Good to know! On the other hand, I have also learned that I will be itching for the rest of any day when a patient has bugs.
Its tough to know how to feel about a patient like this- on one hand, you KNOW they cannot take care of themselves, because...well...he was dragging himself across the FLOOR in a filthy house! But on the other hand, now we're taking away all his perceived independence. Tough call.