I spend most of my time at work taking care of sick people, which is a serious and rewarding exercise. I also have an interesting and fascinating job. Sometimes my job is fun and makes me laugh. A conflict arises, however, when a sick person is funny. It makes me feel bad to laugh at someone who is sick.
The most obvious example of this conflict is dealing with bipolar patients in their manic phase. Manic people can really be funny. They go on and on, talking rapidly about truly crazy things. Sometime, it is really impossible not to laugh at what they say though their “humor” is a manifestation of their illness.
One of the places I sit to put my notes in the computer is right in the middle of the main emergency department, an area we call “The West Station.” Since our ED is too small to care for the number of patients we need to see, we often put patients on gurneys in the hall. One of the hall beds is right across from where I sit at the computer.
One night, a very manic lady was assigned to bed 5X, right across where I was busily entering notes in the computer. She talked constantly and it was very entertaining to listen to her as she waited to be taken to the emergency psychiatric department. Sometimes, her statements were directed at a member of the staff, sometimes at other patients or family members, sometimes at no one in particular.
In order to avoid her attention and get my charting done, I had to keep out of her sight by keeping my head down behind the computer monitor. This also hid from her the unavoidably amused look on my face.
At one point, I had to go do something and when I came back to my workstation, she started calling to me. Since I had already talked to her several times and attempted to answer all of her many bizarre questions, I felt it better to just avoid talking to her and get my other tasks done.
As I sat behind my computer screen, she started to call me. At first it was not too loud but, as I failed to answer, she started calling louder and louder. Then she started calling me names. The name she settled on was “Dr. Yeast Infection.”
So, there I sat, trying to remain inconspicuous behind my computer monitor, with a woman in the hallway across from me screaming, “Dr. Yeast Infection” at the top her lungs, over and over again, faster and faster, until the whole department was consumed by the show. It painted such a hilarious situation, that I was doing everything I could to not laugh.
Since my efforts to stay out of her sight and attention were obviously failing miserably, I got up, went over and tried to talk to her. My efforts to calm here were unsuccessful and she wouldn’t even listen to me. She just screamed, “Dr. Yeast Infection” over and over again until they took her off to get the help she needed from the psychiatrist.
Trackback from your site.