After tending to that patient’s admission, Norman had to tend to the regular walk-in ER patients who waited patiently while the military patients were examined. There were only three such ER patients. A retired Army Colonel had come to Long Island to visit his daughter’s family for Christmas. He had brought a beagle puppy for his 8-year-old grandson. It was a stupendous gift for the child. The child had asked Santa for one but his mother knew that grandpa was getting it. In his wisdom Grandpa told his grandson, “Santa didn’t have room for him on the sleigh and asked me to bring him along. I always help with Santa when I can, so here’s the puppy.” The presentation of the gift was masterful. Grandpa was almost a hero–almost. Grandpa had a condition known as diverticulosis, which was the presence of small sac-like outpouchings of the colon. These sacs could get infected and each one had the potential to become like an infected appendix unless sufficient roughage was a daily occurrence and constipation was avoided. Grandpa took a combination stool softener and laxative called Peri-colace. He always had his prescription renewed at his local VA hospital in New Jersey. During the hullabaloo that was Christmas morning at his daughter’s Long Island home, the beagle puppy ate grandpa’s Peri-colace capsules. Grandpa came to the ER to get another prescription. Norman wrote the scrip and sent him to the pharmacy. That was a quick one. The grateful Colonel went back home to the familial Christmas scene now punctuated with a beagle puppy with the Peri-colace shits.
The second patient was a 30 year-old-mother with a 2-inch laceration of her left palm. She had cut herself while opening a Christmas present sent from Vietnam. It was a gift from her husband who would not be home this holiday season. The sorry-looking thin woman brought her two children with her. At age four and age six they were both sad their mother was injured and that they had to leave their presents at home.
“Don’t worry. It’s just a superficial cut.” Norman reassured the pretty mother. She had large round reddened eyes that looked larger when Norman told her he was going to sew her hand up. “First let me get you a tetanus shot.” The ER nurse gave the injection while the children looked on in horror. She had the woman soak her hand in a Zephiran solution prior to Norman’s suturing. “This is a small needle to numb the area.” Norman injected the 0.5% Xylocaine and completed 9-stitches. It would heal with a minimal scar. The woman started to cry.
“What’s wrong? You’re as good as new.” Norman tried for reassurance. The children started to cry along with the mother. The nurse came over.
“With this hand all bandaged up, I can’t make Christmas dinner. I left everything in the freezer and I need both hands.” She wiped the tears from her face. “I don’t have any help. I have no family in the area who are home. My friends have gone out of town for the holiday. Oh, this Christmas isn’t turning out good.” She continued to cry.
“I have a suggestion.” LT Cobwit Rumpnik smiled and looked at Norman. “I think the JMOOD could authorize you and your children to have dinner here. Not only that,” she paused and motioned for a not so private whisper. “Santa is coming to dinner and everyone in the mess hall gets a present.”
“Really?” She looked at her children. “Where do I find the JMOOD? What do I say?” Her eyes went from Norman to Rumpnik to the corpswave.
Silence ensued. Rumpnik and Corpswave Gassly stared at Norman. Rumpnik elbowed Norman in the ribs.
“What. Oh. Yes. I’m the JMOOD and could you and your children be the guests of Queens Naval Hospital for lunch?” The children looked at their mother expectantly.
Rumpnik gave Norman another elbow and mumbled, “HO-HO-HO is coming.” Rumpnik nodded to the children.
“Oh yeah. Hey guys. Santa Claus is coming.” Norman smiled and bent down to the children.
Norman went to see the last ER patient. As he walked away, Rumpnik turned to Gassly. “I don’t know how LT Zettler got to him. His social sensibility is malignantly underdeveloped.”
The last patient was also a young female. She was with her husband who was wearing the Army Class-A uniform. Norman noticed his Vietnam Campaign ribbons. Norman surmised that it was her husband as both were wearing wedding bands. The woman did not appear to be in any great distress. Norman looked at the ER admission notes. Under “Chief Complaint” was noted “vaginal discharge”. After getting a detailed history, he reassured the couple. Most young-marrieds were fearful that such female-specific maladies were a venereal disease until proven otherwise. Norman dismissed their fears just by listening to the women’s description.
“Gassly. I need you to put this patient up in stirrups in exam room 7.”
Properly draped and with the corpswave in attendance, Norman verified his diagnosis. “You have a yeast infection my dear. We’ll give you a prescription for some vaginal suppositories. Gassly here will tell you how to use them and it will go away in 2-3 days.”
“What about the itch? And my husband? He just came back from Nam. What about sex? Isn’t there something quicker?”
“Wait a minute while I talk to your husband.” Norman turned to Gassly. “Keep her up in stirrups for a minute.” Norman went out to the waiting room and returned in 5-minutes. He sat down on the stool between the woman’s spread legs. “There is something I can do but I needed your husband’s okay. I can paint the inside with something that will work immediately and last for a whole month. You should still use the suppositories to get the best results. But you will be able to have relations.”
“Oh Doctor, thank you. This is my best Christmas present.”
“Gassly. I need two sponge sticks saturated with gentian violet.”
In the waiting room, Norman gave the couple the prescription and wished them Merry Christmas.
“Why did you have to talk to the husband?” Gassly was eighteen and naïve.
“Rumpnik, you tell her.” Norman left the ER and headed up to the psychiatric wing.
“The gentian violet is a purple dye that sticks to the vagina and kills all the yeast and fungal cells immediately. If the patient has sex with her husband, he’ll have a purple penis for 2-months. Dr. Norman had to get agreement from her husband.” Rumpnik went back to her paperwork.
Rowena Gassly was left standing in the waiting room
thinking about purple dicks.
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