It had been a relatively slow day. There had been nothing critical, nothing that could really be considered truly emergent: some abdominal pains, a superficial leg laceration, and several flu cases. Sometimes days like that were more difficult, because the mind tends to wander, and it’s much harder to bring focus onto the patient.
I was new to the area, having moved from the East Coast only a couple months prior. That the culture was unique and peculiar was common knowledge. Order a cup of coffee, and you get looks as if you just asked for absinthe, assuming the server even knows what absinthe is! But for the most part it was easily ignorable, and frankly, having Sundays be so slow and easy-going was very attractive. Especially having such a high-paced job in the emergency room.
The mountains were stunning, tall, snow-capped, and seemed to loom over the valley. On clear days the mountains were pristine, cutting across the deep blue sky. The brilliance of white against green-brown, blue against white was breath taking. Putting the quirkiness of the people aside, this really was a very lovely place to call home. But it was hard to put the quirkiness of the people aside.
A particular patient, on this particular slow day, made the quirkiness case in point quite nicely. The door of Room 7 was heavy as I pushed it against what I quickly learned was a thick fog of self-importance.
“Hi, I’m Dr. Brinley," I broke the ice. We’re seeing you today for a hand injury, right?”
It was puzzling that almost immediately he looked at me with annoyance.
“Yes, and you’re going to have to contact the orthopedic surgeon right away”, he stated, his voice bringing to mind my father.
Oh great, he's that kind of patient: the know-it-all kind. Joy. The thought appeared, and I couldn’t tuck it back down.
“Well I’d like to have a look at it first, just to assess the damage.”
Getting a bit obstinate, he declared, “It’s going to need a cast! You really should just call the surgeon.”
“I’m a doctor too, and I’d like to be able to explain to Ortho, when or if I contact them, what exactly the problem is.” At this point the term pompous far understated the stern look he had on his face.
“Don’t you know who I am? I’m a general authority!”
“Oh? On what?” History? Economics? And why does this pertain to anything we are talking about??
Visibly fuming, he clarified: “I’m a General Authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!”
“Ok, uhm, yeah…”, my voice trailed off. Escape couldn’t come fast enough! Jamie, the nursing team leader for that shift, proceeded to explain Mormon hierarchy, and why this person would be offended at my lack of respect for who and what he is.
Never returning to that room, rumor has it that he was indeed seen by the orthopedic surgeon, because at the next “General Conference” (whatever that is) he was on TV with a cast. He had apparently been right about the emergency of his injury. His yelling was entirely justified. My bad.