Sing Me Back Home

guitar, emtThis week in the emergency room has been very busy- yesterday (monday) we saw 186 patients. Today was also quite busy, not as bad as yesterday but- by the end of the day- there were 8 suicidal patients that had to be monitored.

One patient stood out to me. She was an elderly gal that came in with enough bags to fill a u-haul and a guitar case with writing scrawled across it. She looks quite upset and I can tell she’s genuinely in need of help.

Security screens our patients- swiping a wand over them and going through all of their belongings. When they open her guitar case, she picks it up and strums it. She’s about to put it back when I tell her, “It’s alright if you play something.”

“Really?” She seems surprised and excited. She’s been in tears and a nervous wreck up till this point.  She strums the guitar and closes her eyes. She starts in on a mournful, soul- filled version of Merle Haggard’s “Sing Me Back Home.”

Patients watched and listened curiously to the old bag lady with the guitar. It was funny to see people’s reactions. We are used to people screaming obnoxiously and yelling obscenities for hours at a time, but when someone is peaceably serenading the emergency room, no one knows what to think.

What amazed me most was that this lady played totally uninhibited. Even though her eyes were still wet with tears, and she was in front of total strangers- she was alone with her guitar and the music she sang. She sounded good too.

People talked about the “lady who was playing guitar.” It was a breath of fresh air- to me. It  actually challenged me. Talk about not caring what people think. It wasn’t like she was oblivious- she kept telling me how embarrassed she was of the state she was in. She was a medical professional for nearly thirty years. She doesn’t know it, but she taught me about life today.

When the day was almost over- a nurse yells, “Charles, there’s someone shot outside!” I grab a gurney and run out to find a guy in his car- shot in the leg. I pick him up and throw him on a gurney- he felt like a feather- I think it was the adrenaline.

It was a self inflicted, accidental wound- the gun still laying on the floor of the car. He had two guns in the car- not cheap guns either- the one he “used” cost around $900. This guy had a friend with him….who was obviously in shock. When I talked to him- he starts laughing- he says, “This is the second time he’s done this…I think he shot the same leg too…”

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