It was one of those days that we were going from call to call and virtually all of them were nonsense. We were the ‘garbage truck’ on this day; getting called to drug seekers, drunks, and 21 years old with chest pain a.k.a. I-don’t-want-to-be-at-work-today. We were on our fifth call already and it was only three hours into the shift. We were dispatched to a parking lot for an unknown medical problem. I hate unknown medical problems because, as the name implies, it could be anything. The reality is, though, whomever called 9-1-1 didn’t give enough information as to why they needed an ambulance so the call fell into a catchall category of unknown medical. Ick.
The night crew had given us an update on their activities throughout the night, including information about a ‘newcomer’ in town that was seeking drugs. Drug seekers are a cunning, crafty sort, and will go to great lengths to dupe the medical community into giving them narcotics. I have had patients intentionally slam their hand in a car door just so I would give them something for the pain. I have heard the most incredible stories about suffering and pain so great that they cannot get out of bed, even though they are showered, dressed, and fresh coffee has been made in the kitchen…and they live alone. When the habit has become so addicting that they just have to have drugs, and they have exhausted all their resources locally, the drug seeking freak show will sometimes hit the road.
Guess who had just called 9-1-1 for an unknown medical emergency?
After pulling into the parking lot, we found the patient sitting in her rental car. She was exactly as the night crew had described her, including the crutches, cervical collar, and bag of first aide stuff in her back seat. She was a pro. I was irritated with this woman before the first words were spoken so my attitude wasn’t very ‘patient friendly.’
“What can we do for you?” I asked curtly.
“I was assaulted a few days ago and I am in a lot of pain. I can’t move my legs,” she answered.
“How did you drive your car here if you can’t move your legs?” I asked.
“It’s getting progressively worse. I had to pull over.”
“Interesting. That is the same thing you told my co-workers a few hours ago,” I offered.
She was momentarily flustered, but recovered quickly. “Those people were not very nice to me.”
“Ma’am, we have a zero tolerance policy in this city for people that are seeking narcotics,” I said. “In fact, we usually call the police, so count yourself as lucky that the other crew didn’t turn you in. Prescription fraud is a felony.”
“I am NOT seeking drugs,” she answered with feigned indignation.
“Where did you get assaulted?” I asked. My impatience was growing with each passing second and I was going to try and catch her in a lie.
She rattled off some small town a few hours away. “It was horrible. I am lucky to be alive.”
“Yet, you don’t have a single bruise or scratch on you,” I said. The mocking nature of my voice was evident.
“They pushed me down and kicked me in the stomach and back,” she said dramatically. “It was horrible! My whole insides are killing me.”
I wasn’t going to let this charade get out of hand. “What is the name of the officer that took your report? I need to corroborate your story.” When she didn’t answer, I continued, “Lemme guess. You didn’t call the police.”
She knew I wasn’t going to buy her story but she couldn’t concede just yet. She tried the race card. “What good would it do to call the police? It was three Negroes. They beat me and took my purse and all my money.”
I looked inside her car at a purse sitting next to her. “You must have done a little purse shopping since the assault with the money that you don’t have anymore, you know, because you were robbed,” I said with sarcasm.
She had lost but she wasn’t going to go quietly. “Is everyone so unfriendly around here? I have never been treated so rudely in all my life. I am in extreme pain and no one wants to help me.”
“We don’t take kindly to people trying to hustle us for narcotics. Might I suggest a rehab program?”
“You’re an asshole,” she blurted out.
My tolerance for this drug seeker was done. “I suggest you find the nearest interstate and get out of town. That, or you can go to jail. The choice is yours.”
I turned to walk away, and then she brought me to a halt with her next statement. “By the way…those are the ugliest boots I have ever seen.”
I stopped cold in my tracks. I had been yelled at, cussed at, threatened, spit on, bitten, and punched. But no one had ever told me that my boots were ugly.
I looked down at my boots and then dramatically turned to face her. “That’s just plain mean. Get the hell out of here,” I said and pointed toward the street.
My partner had already gone back to the truck in case he needed to radio the police. When I got in, he asked, “So, what did she say?”
“She said my boots were ugly.”
“Wow. That had to hurt.”
“You’re telling me.”