Normally, the emergency room of a hospital is a chaotic place, where ambulances are constantly arriving or cars bring in injured people, you hear screams and cries. But not always, at least not in the neighborhood polyclinics. Here things are more relaxes, as the emergencies go direction to the hospitals, as do the people who feel extremely ill, they don’t come to these primary care centers, they go quickly to the place where they know their problems will be resolved: the hospital, where they can count on there being more resources.

The cases I related below are true, though they seem like jokes, and what’s more they star the polyclinic in my neighborhood.

One of the doctors in whom I have the greatest confidence told me, that one Sunday when she was in the emergency room a young woman came in somewhat upset and said to her, “Doctor  you have to save my life, if you don’t help me my husband will kill me.”

“Tell my what the problem is and let’s see if we can help you,” the doctor said to her.

“Look, in all honestly, I am having an affair, and the thing is, I fell asleep and now I can’t go home without justifying to my husband where I was. I need you to admit me, and if you can, give me an IV!”

“Let’s see,” the doctor answered, “for this I have to consult with my superior, I can’t do this on my own.”

She consulted with the chief of the emergency room and both of them fearing for the physical integrity of the woman who was really very upset, decided to admit her and give her an IV with glucose.  They called her house and told her husband to come and get her, because she had come into the emergency room sick and they had spent the night stabilizing her. The husband, totally crushed, came immediately and looking at his defenseless wife he covered her in hugs and kisses and only reproached her for not waking him up and asking him to accompany her.

The other case was simpler but nicer: A woman of about 30 came and said to the doctor, “I’ve discovered a lump in my breast, but as I was teaching a class I waited to finish before coming to see you so you can tell me it’s cancer and how long I have to live.” The doctor grabbed a short white coat and said, “Take off your clothes and put this on and I will examine you immediately.”

The lady went behind the screen and at that moment a little metallic sound was heard. “Thank you doctor, but I don’t need you any more!” the patient said, “I found the cancer. I hadn’t noticed but in my haste to finish lunch, I was holding a dessert spoon in my hand and when I looked at the clock I had to run so I wouldn’t miss the bus, and I couldn’t think of anything to do with the spoon other than to put it in my bra and I forgot about it. You can’t imagine how worried I was having that lump all that time.”

The other case was a man who came to the emergency room with a matchbox, and shaking it to make a noise, showed it to the doctor. “Doctor, don’t think I’m crazy, but these are not matches, look, it’s two stones.”

The doctor asked, intrigued, “Are they something you excreted?”

“No, Doctor, I found these in my Cerelac when I was eating breakfast, and I wanted you to send them to be analyzed to see if they are poisoned.”

“Please, Sir,” the doctor said, “If you had been poisoned you would have symptoms. Better you go back to where you bought the product and make a claim against the seller.”

September 22 2011

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