Ah, the long Memorial Day weekend. For my non-US readers I should explain that this is really not a solemn time of remembrance and reflection. No, it is the first exuberant three day holiday of summer, a time when the grim memories of long winter are thrown off. A time to pop open a beer and toss some bratwurst on the grill.
Or in the case of my patients in the ER, to chug down a bottle of Jaeger Meister and stick their hands on the grill.
I am gearing up for three straight days of long, busy work.
But I like it. The ratio of Silly to Serious shifts towards the former on such occasions. And like most clinicians I would prefer - up to a certain point - to be dealing with acute illness and injury. So often we are by default the place in the health care system that is always open, and so becomes the destination for folks with the Incurable, the Incomprehensible and the Indefinite.
On a busy summer weekend the ER staff brings the A Game. We brew the coffee a little stronger, and move from room to room with a bit of spring in our step.
It is all about being organized. Do we have enough suture sets ready? Do we need to pull in a bit more staff from the floor? How many ambulances are out and how far out?
When I arrive for what promises to be a busy shift I stop in the parking lot and take a quick census. One point for each out of state licence plate ( welcome visitors but good luck getting any medical records if you need them ). Five points for each law enforcement vehicle. Fifty points if the helipad lights are turned on anticipating an air transport.
Busy times, busy times. I never complain after these shifts, even when things get bad. One Fourth of July weekend I had three stabbings and a baseball bat beating all arrive from a party gone bad. We keep moving, we apologize to those with lesser issues who have to wait. "Worst Come, First Served" I tell them.
As I get into the last few years of my ER career I suppose I could count on my fingers the number of times I will have to gear up for one of these.
In whatever puttering about mode I find myself eventually, I will certainly look back and miss these times....