Tuesday, February 25, 2014
The Morgue Drawer...a RA Flare Rerun
A group of us girls got together last night, leaving husbands and significant others to fend for themselves where it came to scavenging for food, drink and entertainment. Waitress not included. It's been a while since we were all together swapping war stories from the line of duty. It felt good to be in the company of women. I'm sure men can appreciate this, it's not much different from their poker nights, only we have no cards or chips, we expend no money only laughter. We try to keep things light for the fun of it and occasionally dark for the thrill of it. We were doing hamburgers and Good Sister was doing her world famous slaw. I was amazed because she was actually making it in front of us so we could all steal the recipe if we were so inclined. I was. I did. I will. I told them about a house that had burned nearly to the ground on my way out to her house. It struck me as suspicious...but that's the cop blood, you see. Everything is suspicious. So GS told me that there had been a few suspicious fires in town, and that I could be right about the house. Everyone was moving around the kitchen, breaking up lettuce, slicing tomatoes, GS was now making chili so those of us so inclined could have a Carolina Classic hamburger...chili and slaw with a healthy slice of Vidalia onion. Turns out we were all so inclined. She cut the potatoes to fry, and looking around at our bounty, said "Wendy's doesn't have anything on us, girls!" Asking me if I wanted a soda, she directed me to her fridge. "I put some diet cokes in the freezer." I walked over to the fridge, pulled the freezer drawer out and grabbed a coke. I heard one of the girls say, "did you intend to put a morgue drawer in your kitchen or was it a happy accident?" Every one broke out laughing as GS shook her head and told us it had not even occurred to her until it was set in place. After that several of us begged her to tell us the story of the night she got pinned in the Morgue. The Morgue in the old hospital was more like a walk in closet with four odd looking drawers inset into the wall. It was old, having been an afterthought years ago when the hospital was first built. The only other people (other than the resident dead) that entered on any kind of frequent basis were the Medical Examiners and family members there to identify a loved one, or view a loved one who had passed in the hospital. One of the drawers, the bottom drawer on the left had long been in need of repair, but administration had done nothing about the repairs in the six months since the request had been made. There was now a trick to pull the "Resident of the drawer" out into the light for viewing. In the room was a tall metal trash can, you had to open the door out, pull out the drawer and quickly kick the trash can under the drawer to support it and keep the body on the tray of the drawer from tumbling onto the floor. The ME's had become so used to doing this that it was just second nature, open door, pull drawer, kick can, support tray. See? Easily done. So this one night when GS was the ME on call, she had to go down to the Morgue to do the paper work on a body that had just gone down from upstairs. The family would want to "view" her, she knew, and she needed to get all the paperwork in the system. For some reason, the "Residents" were always put in feet first, rather than head first which made it difficult to read the toe tags. You had to pull the body completely out to read the information. GS said she groaned when she saw which drawer her patient was in. She expected the worse. She got it. "I opened the door, " she told us, "and realized that the body within was well over three hundred pounds. At first the tray refused to move. I had one leg cocked to kick the trash can under the tray when it rolled out, but the tray still refused to move. Instead of looking to see what might be holding it, I just gave a hard jerk on it and suddenly it began to move. It picked up momentum and before I could kick the can under it to support it, it came off the track and pinned me to the back Morgue wall. I couldn't lift it. I couldn't move it. I began to wail hoping someone would hear me. After a bit, I gave that up and decided to save my voice for when I might hear someone coming down in the elevator. I figured that someone would miss me eventually, or the family would be escorted down to view the body and that I wouldn't be here long. I was in there for an hour before I heard the slightest sound other than my own breathing. I began to yell, "hello!!! hello!!!" at the top of my lungs. The young ME was now thankful for the sweater that she had pulled on before going down to the glorified closet. It was cold in here. Of course, it needed to be cold, but she was afraid she was going to freeze to death before anyone came to her rescue. It was the elevator she heard that sounded like an angel skidding to a stop. She heard a voice singing a gospel song and so she began to shout, "in here, help me please!" She saw the young man in the huge mirror that hung on the morgue wall and showed the outside hallway. He stopped, took an ear bud from his ipod out of his ear and stopped. His eyes were wide and his mouth hung open in shock as though he had awakened and found himself in the midst of a horror movie. The ME, whose voice was now raw and wispy from shouting for over an hour, again called out, "Hello!!" She could hear the young man clearing his throat. He too seemed to have lost his voice. He turned all around trying to locate the voice. He began to stammer back, "hello, where are you?" He turned into the Morgue and seeing her there against the wall, ran over to try to help her. It took three men and a jack to free her from her chilly prison, but they finally managed to get the tray back on the tracks and into the drawer. "You know it was about a month before I felt warm again. And it was the impetus for building a new morgue. And high time, too!" And so that's the story of the Morgue Drawer...line of duty stories? I have a million of them.