The drunken cowboy paced in and out of his room, looking for something. Looking to make sure no one was watching. Holding his left arm at his side with his forearm across his chest, he paced out into the hallway once more. Looking left then right, he turned towards the exit and began walking. Even his casual cowboy gait looked suspicious.
He stopped at admissions and asked one of our petite, 97 pound receptionists, “Are you guys gonna show me how to put this on or what?” he asked, holding out a foil covered fiberglass split, still in it’s package unopened.
The receptionist coolly guided him back to his room in the ER to await my evaluation.
As I introduced myself, I wrestled the fiberglass package out from under the (obviously) broken arm and sat him down on the bed. “You’re in the ER now, and you have to follow our rules, OK?” As he sat down, the bulge in the back of his pink cowboy shirt revealed the corner of yet another foil wrapped splint. I reached inside the torn seam of his shirt and wrestled this one out too. By this time I was lauhging inside…the drunk cowboy trying to hide 10″ x 10″ and 3″ thick silver packages under his shirt and under his arm as if no one would notice.
The cowboy was in a hurry to go back to work, angry that his arm was betraying him with pain.
When he tried to steal a split for the fourth time, I somewhat hastily pushed his shoulders back onto the bed, and had a stern talk with him.
“This is stealing,” I said. “You wouldn’t want us to come into your stable and start taking tack off the wall, now, would you? When you are in our house, you need to play by our rules.”
As he finally laid down on the bed and put his muddy spurs up on the white sheets, I noticed a small knife strapped to his belt.
“You’re not going to take that knife out and stab me, are you?”
In a southern, drunk, Jack Daniel’s Drawl, he said, “Naw…you already kicked my ass…”
Finally after viewing the x-ray, two of us placed the split which he so desparately wanted, and he whined, “A pint of whiskey sure would make this feel better.” It was a perfect opening for me, as up to this point, I had not confronted him about the drinking, nor did I really care…but I was curious…
“Did you have any whiskey before you came over here today?”
“Yeah, a little bit”
“How much is a little bit?”
“Oh, half a bottle or so…not much…”
We convinced the cowboy to leave his splint on at least until he was sober before he decided if he could work without it on. Finally he smiled at us….which made me suspicious again.
“What are you smiling about?”
“Well…you’re the first doctor who’s ever been nice to me.”
Stay tuned for Part 2, “The tale of the drunken lady”