Practicing Listening Skills

My father took ill, on the order of 30 years ago. He had a heart attack, and, while recovering from that excitement, was found to have cancer. Given that he was at that point in his seventies, well, it was a rough time for him, and my mother.

Now, shortly prior to these discoveries, they had moved from The Unnamed Midwest State, to The East Coast. They had been born, and met, married, and started our family in The Megalopolis. With my one brother and I living in and about Da City, and our other brother living overseas, well, my brother the contractor was not a strong candidate to help mom take care of dad, and I, the nurse, seemed better suited, occupationally, to show up out there.

So, I did so. The mortgage company did not seem likely to grant me a payment holiday. It appeared that the credit union was on this same page. Therefore, I needed to work as a travel nurse should I spend any time on The East Coast. I did so, pulling 12 hour weekend night shifts.

After I was credentialed, I was assigned to work various East Coast emergency departments, my job back at home. So, this one time, I was sent to St. Elsewhere, in some fishing town on the southern coast of The State.

I arrived early, and announced myself, asking for the charge nurse. She greeted me, and asked me if I had any ER experience.

Now, by this point, I had spent around 8 years on Da City’s EMS, and close to 7 years in ER in Da City. My answer was “Yeah, some.”

She looked me up and down, and gave me her New Kid Spiel. “This is a fishing town. We have a bunch of young guys, working hard fishing, and, when they come into port, they play hard. Now, if you get a 20 something guy, tap dancing away, can’t sit still, anxious, sweating, and complaining that he feels like his heart is about to jump out of his chest, he’s not having a heart attack. Likely, it’s cocaine.”

I nodded. “Sounds right.”

She paused. “You know anything about cocaine? Ever seen any cocaine overdoses?”

“I know some, I’ve seen a couple.”

“Where have you worked?”

“Da City, in ER. 8 years on Da City EMS before that.”

“Why am I telling you about cocaine? You were just gonna let me carry on, weren’t you?”

“Yeah. If I listened, likely I’d learn something.”

She rolled her eyes. “Here are your keys, your module is over there, get Lucy to count narcotics with you.”


5 thoughts on “Practicing Listening Skills

  1. I just got sent here by Wirecutter. I already know from reading this first post that I am going to like this place, and you are about to be hit with more traffic than you ever expected. Best wishes and happy writing.


  2. As a former nurse and an old fart I really enjoyed your stories. I never worked EMS, had some chance to do so but I figured I saw the same in a 2nd tier trauma hospital I didn’t need to chase after it. Your stories were spot on and it didn’t matter if it was Detroit, Michigan or Portland, Oregon hospital the same kind of crap and the same kind people. The old saying ” The more things change, the more they stay the same, just different town.” I was born in Grand Rapids, Mich, family moved in ’63 to Oregon. I still have some relatives there. I live in Eastern Plains of South Dakota now retired and no desire to get back into the snake pit. I have been an avid reader of Wirecutter and like the rest came over when he mentioned you and I went through your whole blog the other day laughing my fat ass off with your stories because they so mirrored mine. I look forward to reading more of your exploits gagedesoto. (Emergency) was one of my favorites. Kevin


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