I limp over to the phone at the other side of the ambulance bay fairly confident that Sleeping Partner is doing what he does best (and therefore isn't hearing the phone ringing next to his head). On the third ring I pick up the phone.
Epi: (in the most cheerful tone I can manage) "Helloooo?"
Cool Dispatcher: "Hey Epi... How are you this fine morning?"
Epi: "Oh I'm just living the dream, and yourself?"
Cool Dispatcher: "Fantastic, Epi. You have a run!"
Epi: (voice dripping with sarcasm) "Gee thanks so much Cool Dispatcher!
I hang up the phone. "SLEEPY PARTNER GET YOUR ASS UP! WE HAVE A RUN!"
I grab my cup of noodles, my coffee, and wait until I hear Sleepy Partner moving actively before I head out to the truck. Thank God Sleepy Partner has taken the EVOC course and is now able to drive (as long as there's no patient in the truck. If *I* happen to be in the truck and he rolls it over, that's okay. Guess I wont be napping today). I wait to put us enroute until I hear Sleepy enter the bay. He doesn't keep me waiting long.
Sleepy Partner: Where we heading?
Epi: I haven't had a pager in three weeks. Check your pager.
Sleepy takes a look at the pager. "Suburban ECF to Evil Empire Hospital. Endoscopy."
I ask if he knows where he's going, and he nods. I sit back in the passenger seat, sip my coffee, and do my best to not distract him while he's driving.
We arrive at Suburban ECF and Sleeping Partner backs up to the entrance perfectly.
Epi: "Good job Grasshopper!"
He rolls his eyes. "Shut it, Epi"
Epi: So, is it a name we know?
SP checks the pager again. He looks irritated.
"What's wrong?" I ask
"Epi... remember that lady who yelled at you from the back of the truck the entire way to the hospital? The one who accused us of stealing her cookies?"
Epi: "Oh GOD no. NOT her."
Epi: "Let's go get this over with. At least it's not a wait and return."
The hallways at Suburban ECF are the equivalent of rush hour gridlock. Wheel chairs with residents, drug carts, meal carts, nurses, housekeeping staff... It takes us almost ten minutes to go down three different hallways with the stretcher.
Sleepy Partner knocks on our patients door. "Mrs. Backseat driver? We're here to take you to your appointment."
Our patient is sitting on her bed with her purse in her lap. She looks extremely pissed. I get a sick feeling in my stomach.
"I don't know what in the HELL the problem is with your company!"
Sleepy cocks his head sideways, a little confused. "What's wrong, Mrs. Backseat Driver?"
Oh boy, here it comes.
"YOU should have been here an hour ago! Why are you running so late?"
It's early, I try to wrap my mind around the conversation... "Ma'am... We got this call right after we clocked on for the shift. We were enroute within two minutes and it took us about ten minutes to get here. I promise we came as soon as we were called."
"Well You're LATE."
"Ma'am, I apologize."
Sleepy partner is lowering the cot so we can get her over to it. I forgot she's ambulatory, so when she stands up and walks over I'm a little surprised. I reach out to guide her down to the cot and she yanks her arm away from me.
"You two will not be STICKING me, will you? I wont have it. The crew that was here yesterday stuck me six times before they got a vein!" Backseat patient shows me her bruised forearms and hands. I cringe a little. I glance at Sleepy Partner. He looks nervous.
"Ma'am," I start as I strap her onto the cot, "I'm sorry the guys yesterday had a hard time starting a line on you. I can guarantee you that neither of us will be sticking you."
She relaxes a little bit. "We need to get going, my surgery is at seven am."
I look at my watch. It's 0645. "Ma'am... Do you need to be in preop at seven, or is your procedure starting at seven?"
"I told you my surgery starts at seven! What part of that did you not understand?"
"Okay, on we go" Sleepy Partner says. "Are you comfortable ma'am? Would you like to sit up a little more?"
"No, I would like to get on the road. If I'm late for this surgery I'm going to be VERY upset. I will be upset with your dispatchers, the Hospital, and you both."
I take a deep breath and we raise the cot up and head for the ambulance. The trip back through the crowded hallways seem to irritate her more. I'm starting to feel sorry for sleepy partner. He's going to be trapped in the back of the truck with her for a good ten minutes.
We finally emerge from the nursing home and load her into the truck. I take a step backwards and promptly roll my ankle and fall flat on my back. Sleepy Partner looks stunned.
Our patient is the first voice I hear. "Oh for crying out loud, SHE's going to be driving me? Can this day get any worse?"
Sleepy Partner starts to lose his patience. "She just FELL. How is that ruining YOUR day?"
I'm a little surprised by Sleepy Partner's tone. And a little proud. I decide I might love Sleepy Partner. I dust myself off, and stand up. My hands are scraped and my ankle is throbbing, but the pain I've been in from my damn sciatic nerve seems to have faded. Instant chiropractic adjustment, folks. I'm cured. At least temporarily.
I shoot Sleepy Partner a smile and thank him silently. He smiles back.
I decide if I was ten years younger I might stalk him. Yes, Sam, I said it. :)
Backseat Driver Patient from Hell interrupts our moment. "Don't you DARE take Monroe Street. You'll be taking Central. My God this is the COLDEST ambulance I've ever been in."
Sleepy Partner climbs in the back with the SheDevil and I jump in the drivers seat (Okay, so I gingerly climb into the drivers seat) and get us moving.
I pull out onto Monroe Street, which coincidentally is the quickest and most direct route to the hospital. It's also blessedly empty.
Wait for it... I think to myself... Wait for it...
"I TOLD YOU TO TAKE CENTRAL!" She yells.
"Ma'am, Central has construction on it and it's filled with potholes. Please trust me, I'm doing my best to get you to your appointment on time." I say loudly, but calmly.
"Okay, but if I'm late I'm going to hold you personally responsible!"
"I can understand your frustration, please just trust me." I fight the urge to get into an argument with her. Right now I wish I had just taken Central.
The remaining eight minutes of our transport time is blissfully silent. We arrive at the hospital with two minutes to spare. We're at least a ten minute walk from the area of the hospital she needs to be in. A little longer with my swollen and now throbbing ankle.
We head into the hospital and towards the elevator. I've taken her to Endoscopy before, but that was the only time I've ever been to that department. I remember it being on the floor with the Labor and Delivery area. I know this to be a fact. I am as positive of this as I could possibly be.
We step into the elevator and trouble starts again. "What floor is it on, Epi?" Sleepy Partner asks.
"Five" I say.
"It's not on five, it's on four." The patient says.
"No Ma'am, it's on Five. It's on the floor with Labor and Delivery." I close my eyes and take a cleansing breath.
The patient has had it with us. "Listen here young lady. This is my sixteenth visit here. I KNOW it's on the fourth floor." She looks at Sleepy Partner who looks like a deer trapped in headlights. "Push four. It's on the fourth floor."
I speak to SP, "Sleepy, remember, we got off the elevator and couldn't get to that part of the floor because we were blocked by the baby area? We had to go down, and come up on the other elevators?" I'm praying he remembers this. If I give into this woman who knows when I'll get her to her appointment.
The elevator doors close. Sleepy Partner shrugs his shoulders. The patient is now commanding him from her throne on our beautiful yellow stryker cot to "press four" or she'll "sue the company and both of us for gross incompetence."
I shake my head. "Just hit four. We'll do it your way Ma'am. I just want you to know that you will be responsible for making yourself late." I know, not my finest moment. I'm not proud of it.
We exit the elevator on the fourth floor. Sleepy Partner attempts to locate endoscopy on the floor map in the elevator lobby. "I don't see it--" Our patient cuts him off. It's to the left, that way," she points. I just shake my head. This is not going to end well.
We push her down a long hallway towards what I KNOW is the Geriatric Psych area. I want to laugh out loud, but I manage to maintain at least a minimal amount of professionalism.
I think I should note here that our patient is completely alert and oriented. She's does not have dementia or anything else that would cloud her judgment other than a poor attitude and the inability to admit that she may not be right.
"This doesn't look familiar. You took me the wrong way!" She snaps. A transport clerk passes us from the opposite direction. She reaches out and grabs his arm. He's startled. "HEY! Where would a patient go to have an endoscopy?"
"Fi-fifth floor" He stutters. He looks at the patient, and he looks at me. I'm sure the look on my face tells him most of the story.
"How many times do I have to tell you people, this is my 20th time here and I know what I'm talking about. It's on this floor. We're just on the wrong side of the floor. Turn this stretcher around now."
Now I've had it.
"Back to the elevator. Now. This has gone on long enough." I take the foot of the cot and turn it 180 degrees. Sleepy Partner doesn't know what to think at this point. He doesn't move.
"Yo, Sleepy. Let's move."
I've managed to completely tune our patient out at this point, I'm aware that she's speaking, but I couldn't tell you anything she said.
We get back in the elevator and I hit the number five. She starts threatening to sue us again. I try a different approach this time. "Ma'am... It's possible that they've moved the department up a floor. Let's just try this. We just want you to get to your appointment." I'm pleading at this point. We exit the elevator and are staring at a sign that says "ENDOSCOPY" with a nice arrow pointing to the left. I'm gleeful. And I don't gloat. At this point I just want her off my cot.
We deliver her to the department. She actually has the nerve to tell the nurse that she's late because we took her to the wrong floor. I guess in retrospect, she was right. I knew we were going to the wrong floor, and I allowed us to go to the wrong floor anyway. I make direct eye contact with the nurse and shake my head. She is familiar with our patient and gives me a sympathetic look. She asks us to put our patient in the first bed.
Of course our patient is demanding to be put in a totally different bed. She doesn't like the view from the first bed. I put my foot down one more time.
"NO, you will go in this bed. If you want to get up and walk to another bed after we put you in this bed, that's your decision to make. The nursing staff wants you in this bed, that's where we're putting you." I look at Sleepy Partner who can't stop smiling. "Drop the cot Sleepy".
Our patient gets up and looks at Sleepy. "You two don't take commands or instruction well, do you?"
What Sleepy replies is priceless. "Ma'am, Command and Instruction are antonyms."
I snort out loud and manage to cover it up with a fake cough.
"Well.... I've never...." Our patient stammers. She looks at Sleepy then at myself. We're not moving. She's going to be getting into that bed. If it's the last thing I do as an EMT.
She finally resigns herself to her (at least temporary) fate and climbs into bed. "I'll be calling your supervisors, you know."
I hand her the run form to sign. "I'm sure you will, Ma'am. I'm very sorry things didn't go as smoothly as you would have liked. Sign here."
As we're walking out the door I look at Sleepy Partner. "Command and Instruction are antonyms? Seriously? I almost wet myself!"
He shrugs his shoulders. "Well, they are..."