In my brief period of working on The Floor(s) as a nurse, in addition to learning a zillion and one weird acronyms for such things as Follow-Up (F/U) and Shortness of Breath (SOB), I learned the term “Frequent Flyer.” Having only been vaguely aware of this term in regards to “miles” and “airfare” because I was a “poor college kid” and “didn’t travel much,” I was baffled when they referred to a patient as this during report (shift change).
Terrified of the seasoned nurses–you would be too-it took me awhile to muster up the courage to ask what the hell they’d been talking about. When I did, it was explained that Frequent Flyers were patients who were in and out of the hospital frequently.
While I thought that a Punch Card Patient (buy 9 visits, get one free!!) was a bit funnier, it reminded me only of a kid I met in college. I’ll call him Ryan because that was his name.
Ryan was from a family of 4 boys–the original Sausage Factory–and these kids were, well, I guess the kindest way to put it is “accident prone,” but that gives you a nice mental picture of someone slipping benignly on ice in an “awe shucks, guys” kind of way. This was not Ryan’s family. As he explained it, these were the luckiest group of unlucky people on the planet. During a family ski vacation, one of his brother’s rolled his ski over another one of his brother’s hands at the top of a slope.
The result? A neatly severed finger, seeping blood into the white snow.
After fixing up said finger in the OR, his family was paid a nice visit from Children and Family Services. It seems as though the quickest way to get them on your ass (besides becoming a foster parent) is to install a revolving door through the ER. Shove through that 4 kids with rotating weird injuries, like broken ribs, missing fingers, busted heads, at semi-regular intervals and SMACK! BOOM! there you have it: you must be abusing your kids.
I can’t say with absolute authority that Ryan’s parents were NOT abusing their kids, but the laughter and general jollity he had about the situation led me to believe that no, this family was just luckily unlucky.
Because it is so often not my children that are involved with this, I’m fairly certain DCFS won’t be beating a path to my house to see how I caused cellulitis (Alex), respiratory issues (Ben) or an encephalocele (Amelia). This is obviously a stroke of genuine good luck, even with the steadily increasing severity of issues.
Between The Daver and I, we seemed to have amassed a stunning amount of stupid crap happening to us. Stuff that winds us up in the ER with various injuries.
(Bonus! Aside time! Sadly, of these probably 12-14 ER visits over the past 3 or so years, I have gotten my fist-full of exactly 11 Vicodin. Ever. Those 11 pills were easily the best part of my 27th birthday, and given to me at just the moment when July 14 waves goodbye to July 15, probably my best birthday present yet. Except the Cabbage Patch Doll that I got when I turned 4. But this is neither here nor there)
No, the list is boring and full of low-fat vanilla misfortunes. Nothing serious to warrant flowers, admissions (mostly) or even more than a simple, “Hey, I had to go the damn hospital last night. I hate hospitals” out of either of us. Corneal abrasion here, shoulder out of joint there, miscarriage here, Crohn’s issues there. No big deal. Stuff that could almost wait until the following day, when our regular doctor is open, except not so much.
If Ryan’s family was the luckiest set of unlucky people I know, my family would be the low-fat, low-sugar variety of that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m neither wishing things were worse or tempting fate here–I’ve had my share of Real Issues lately–but sometimes, you gotta take a step back from it all and have a good fucking laugh.
At least, that’s what I told myself when Dave gave himself what Twitter calls “Bagel Finger” this morning. Just as you’d imagine, he was recklessly cutting a bagel (obviously while saving a kitten from a burning building AND defending The Honor of his wife) when he miscalculated the amount of pressure he was exerting with his massive arms of steel (his guns, as I like to call them. Which, if you knew Dave, would make you laugh). Or he didn’t realize how sharp the knife was.
Either way, the morning slipped into afternoon with a bloody bagel and a busted finger.
As I drove him to the ER, the same ER we just took Alex to for his cellulitis not long ago (for the record, I am way too lazy to look up when this happened. But sources inside my head tell me it was “pretty recently”), I just had to laugh. Not meanly, no, I felt genuinely sorry for Dave, but just because this was becoming absurd.
I laughed, not unkindly, again as we walked out of the ER a scant hour later, Dave’s splinted finger jauntily reattached with some glue, catching the light with it’s shininess.
No, I laughed because no one would fucking believe it.