William Shakespeare said the world was a stage and all the people in it actors, but I think that some people are more like characters and some of these characters that arrive at the emergency department, we call “frequent flyers.” They are the repeat visitors. Some come as drug seekers, some are actually sick, others want to be the center of interest, even for a few hours, and then there are those who are just lonely.
We had a married couple, I think, who didn’t quite fall into any of these categories, but straddled several. They came very close to being frequent flyers. I think they came just because they could come to the hospital and would not have to pay for it. We named them Prince Charles and Princess Dianna. Charles and Dianna were their real names. But there were no guards from Buckingham Palace, no British intelligence, or secret service who would come in with them when they appeared.
The closest thing to being escorted occurred when Prince Charles came in by ambulance one night. He was accompanied only by a couple of medical attendants. He and Dianna carried the “gold card.” Pennsylvania welfare cards were yellow. You’ve heard the commercial, “It’s the gold card, don’t leave home without it.” and this couple never did.
Before anybody complains about my comment, I just want to say, there are people who are unable to work due to a disability SHOULD have assistance. But there are those people who are able bodied and intelligent who should NOT be eligible for those benefits.
I feel that Charles was one of the latter. He was intelligent and if he can have sex, he’s able bodied enough to find a job. At an earlier visit he told me while he was in the triage area, ‘I was teaching the old lady how to play chess tonight before we came in.” He has to have some smarts to play chess, right.
So, let me get back to the story. Charles was brought in by ambulance. As he was moved onto our bed, I noticed that under him was one of the dirtiest, filthiest, spotted, and stained sheets that I had ever seen or ever hope to see and he was completely naked. The spots were not the pattern of the sheet. He told us that he and his wife were having sex when his “back went out.”
He was given x-rays, medicated, and discharged. We gave him a pair of pajama bottoms Because he had arrived “au natural” and a patient gown to wear home. He was to bring them back, but I doubt that he did. We probably doubled his wardrobe.
He and Dianna had hardly disappeared behind the exit door, when she came bounding back into the emergency room. “Where’s my sheet? Where’s my sheet? I need to put it back on the bed when we get home.”
The nurses looked at each other thinking the same thought. “Who would put that filthy thing back onto the bed?” We shrugged, gloved up, and dug through the dirty linen bag to find her sheet and gave it back to her.