Friday, May 29, 2009

Heros and Villains

I met both a hero and a villain yesterday. First, the hero, because he deserves higher billing...

We took a patient to Military Hospital yesterday from his home, for some wound care. He is a WWII combat vet, and a holder of the Purple Heart. As he tells it, his unit was searching for some downed pilots in the jungles of some Pacific island when he was shot in the leg. His leg essentially had a hole in it, with all kinds of fun stuff hanging out of it. He says he got shot around noon, and his unit helped him splint the leg, and fashion a crutch out of bamboo, and they continued on. They were held up by a Japanese ambush patrol, but were saved by another unit who ambushed the ambush. He finally made it to the field hospital around 6pm, where doctors argued over whether or not they could save the leg. They decided to try, and just cleaned it out, put sulfur powder in it, and put a cast on it. Two months later, he developed an infection and they found that maggots had gotten into the cast, which is pretty gross till you think that the maggots cleaned out all the old, dead flesh, and left the new growing flesh. This soldier spent a year in and out of various hospitals until he was given a medical discharge.

This is even more impressive when you consider that this man had already served his time in the military before the war, and then decided to sign up again to fight in the war. Not only that, but he had to go to Maryland to sign up, because DC did not allow any of it's residents to be deployed (something about retaining a protective force around the nation's capitol).

Think about all that for a second. You are searching for some downed pilots, get part of you leg shot out, and walk for 6 hours in the jungle on that leg, avoiding enemy patrols, and ambushes. You finally make it out, and the doctors want to take you leg. They decide to let you try to keep it, but wait another 6 hours. That's 12 hours with a giant bullet hole in your leg, folks.

There are so few WWII heros left. I was lucky that this guy was completely coherent and able to tell me his story. So many of the other WWII vets we transport aren't that lucky.

Now for the villain...

We were in Big Government Hospital, waiting by the elevator to go upstairs to pick up a patient. We were waiting patiently, and had already been waiting about 5 minutes. One elevator was down, and it was a busy time, and with all the wheelchair-bound patients, the elevators were filling up quickly. A woman in a wheelchair came up to us, and said 'You're blocking the elevators,' (you know, because we were standing there for no other reason than to block the elevators) to which my partner replied, quite nicely, 'Well, we're waiting for the elevator.' The woman then went on to loudly complain about the elevators here at BGH, how they never worked right, etc etc.

Then she proceeded to make comments about us. I'm pretty sure she wasn't speaking to anyone in particular, but said 'These people think they're more important than the patients, but they're not.' Then she said 'If they think they're getting on before me, they better watch out.'

We didn't reply, because there wasn't much point in it, and because there was a huge crowd there, but it really irritated me. We had been letting patients and people go on before us for about 10 minutes, making us late for our pick-up, because we well know that a stretcher takes up a lot of space, and the area was very busy. The fact that she came up after we'd been standing there for 5 minutes and started making those comments was totally uncalled for and I really was tempted to say something, but couldn't think of anything sarcastic and nice enough to say that wouldn't leave us as the 'jerks verbally attacking a patient in a wheelchair.' But I just really don't understand the point in making those comments, and then continuing to make those comments. Which I think is what makes me the most pissed. Why be so mean and bitchy to random strangers who are trying to do their job and help your fellow patients? Do you feel that insecure in your position as a patient that you have to run down other people? Or did you just need that elevator THAT much?

Of course, this is the same person who would complain and bitch at us for being late to pick her up if she had needed transport, I'm sure.


TOTWTYTR said...

What you ran into was a woman with a sense of entitlement. Even though she contributes nothing to society and in fact is a drain, she feels superior to people who actually, you know, work and pay taxes.

We see it all the time in EMS.

roaming_gnome said...

Yeah, I've seen it before. It was just very jarring, especially in a place where everyone else I'd met was polite and considerate to the fact that we were there to help the patients. To meet another patient who was so self-centered as to believe herself better than the others was...surreal.