HEAVENER, OK – Physicians at Luck of the Draw Medical Center (LDMC) are no more superstitious than their counterparts at other institutions. The ER doctors may wear their lucky ties on December 25th, hoping that all the dialysis patients resisted salted ham on Christmas, but it doesn’t go much beyond that. They all have their quirks, just like the respiratory therapists who begin every shift with racemic epinephrine poured into an Ambubag as an incense offering.
Every so often a patient suspects something is up, usually when they notice that Operating Room 18 lies between Rooms 12 and 14. More obvious signals have been removed, such as the surgical tech jumping rope with a Bovie cord to entertain the twin gods Hemostasis and Coagulation.
Of course, such superstitions are not without cost, especially when staff members “lose” bloodwork, faxes, medications in the tube system, and the occasional medical student. These occurrences increased in frequency as Friday the 13th drew near.
Moonlight glittered off the pins in Sharon’s hat, reflecting ivory hues back through the windows of 5 West (not to be confused with the nursing floor 5 North Northwest, where they give terrible nursing care, nicknamed the Death Star). Sharon hummed softly as she sat, her stockinged legs keeping time to her tune as they vainly tried to reach the floor. Sharon never washed her stockings on Saturday or ironed her nurse’s uniform on Friday, so she was sure luck was with her tonight.
“It’s a quiet night,” she offhandedly remarked to the resident dozing to her right. In the frozen silence, you could have heard a 27-gauge needle drop. Sharon’s fellow nurses bit back muffled screams as they scurried into action. The now trembling resident sprinkled normal saline over his left shoulder while Olga the Night Pharmacy Tech traced an upside down star in Lactated Ringers. The charge nurse began emptying bottles of magnesium citrate into a porcelain bedpan reserved for only the most sacred and august of ceremonies when the phone rang!
Were they too late? The mist had not yet risen from the bedpan as the charge nurse added effervescent potassium tablets and ranch dressing from the cafeteria salad bar. Sharon answered the phone, steeling herself for the contagious, incontinent, dying yet thoroughly cantankerous patient she would surely be receiving from the ER as punishment for her rashly spoken words.
“Can you speak up? I can’t hear you over the incantations,” as there was a sudden click and the line went dead. They were spared! It would be a good night after all, though Sharon knew better than to voice that thought aloud. She sobbed with relief as she ran down the hall to check on her sleeping patients. Sharon’s vision was too blurry with tears to notice the ladder that the maintenance guy left in the middle of the hallway, until she walked underneath it.