I had a lovely lunch with my friend Beth (Kickboxing instructor and ER Nurse) the other day, where I made her promise to tell me the worst stories about her hospital shifts. Code blue! Code red! Code-a-cola! First, we had to pick a restaurant. We decided to try Elderberries on Sunset Blvd, since it’s purple and there was no way in modern Hell that her husband was ever going in there with her.We made it past the shabby chic country chairs to the lightly air conditioned (it was so hot that day) inside where we were met with a friendly “Hi!” from the girl working and “I will re-MEMMMM-berrrrrr youuu-OOOOOO…dugga dahh-dahh-dahh….” flowing from the rafters. I admit. There was a time when I listened to 24/7 Sarah McLachlan. I even shared a goth nite with my friend Tina in art school, where we dressed in black, did our hair all spikey-pig-tail-y and wore the darkest red (we didn’t have black) lipstick and I played cello to “Building A Mystery” – That’s as goth as I ever went. NOW, when I hear Sarah McLachlan, all I can think about is THAT, and the Columbine shootings and commercials about kill-kill animal shelters.
A quick glance around the place and Beth was like, “Next it’s gonna be Dido.” Sure enough! The playlist went a little: Alanis, Shawn Colvin, Stevie Nicks, Sheryl Crow. You know the rest.
I ordered the raw fig, cashew cheese wrap, in collard green leaves. It was flavorful and delicious and left my belly feeling happy. Not bloated. Beth got an amazing salad and fresh pressed juice to share. We are lucky in LA to have our pick of healthy eating. This place is like the Lilith Fair-loving cousin of Cafe Gratitude. Mostly raw, mostly vegan, great grub. But with much less of the celebrity/fashion-show quotient of Cafe Gratitude. Also, I appreciated the menu listing names of food dishes (mine was called “Raw Fig Wrap”), versus “I AM FABULOUS” on Cafe Gratitude’s menu. Which is like a plate of heirloom tomatoes, fresh greens and free-range ego. Bon appétit, azhöle!
After a little catching up and noshing, we got down to it. TELL ME THE WORST OF YOUR ER STORIES! I’ve known Beth almost the entire time I’ve lived in LA (A whole almost 2 years). I met her in kickboxing class at 24 Hr Fitness. Since then, she got her nursing certification (or whatever it is that you pass, in order to dig around in people in the ER) and she became a super badass kickboxing instructor. So, I feel comfortable forcing her to tell me stories. These are my extremely scientific re-tellings of them.
1. BOOB JOB LADY. A woman got a boob job, left the ER, then a blood clot moved its way to her lung and she died the same day. Her husband, trying to CPR her back to life, chest-pressed her new boobs up to her shoulders. Just something to consider: a long happy life of pushup bras vs. laying to rest while wearing your own boobs as shoulder pads.
2. TAMPON QUEEN. Another woman came into the ER with basically a fever and no abdominal pain and then died. She had left her tampon in too long. I was surprised to learn that you can experience Toxic Shock Syndrome, even if you’ve been using tampons for years. Apparently the body initially rejects the foreign object, but then accepts it as its own by growing tissue around it, resulting in a long line of disgusting results.
3. GUY WHO DRANK A BEER AND THEN CIRCULAR SAWED HIS FINGERS OFF. I don’t think this one needs explanation.
4. MULTIPLE CASES OF PEOPLE DOING COKE AND SUFFERING STROKES AND HEART ATTACKS. The results are not always beautiful supermodel/rock star – worthy.
5. KID WHO DID SUBSTANCES AND DIDN’T KNOW WHAT THEY WERE. Here’s the thing. If you do a bunch of unknown drugs, you’ll say a bunch of dangerous things, act like a demon-possessed idiot, and you’ll end up in restraints, with police escorts, an enormous cocktail of detox drugs, and possibly a trippy trip to the nuthouse if you don’t get it together. SO worth it, right?? Pass me the special brownies you made, stranger!
When I listen to these stories, I feel the sadness of the dying, the hilarity of some of the cases (and Beth’s matter of fact explanations), and the reality that we all need some help sometimes. Thankfully, there are people who can do it! Beth also has a lot of lovely stories about people thanking her for helping them. Or hitting on her (one old man asked for beer in his I.V.). And I’m sure she’s already earned her angel wings by the sheer amount of barf she has cleaned up.
So super glad I don’t have to do that.