Sunday, March 31, 2013

Speaking Their Language

On another night in the Jail Ward ER, local PD drunk driver task force delivers to us Mr. Jose Jimenez, their latest catch. He's pretty harmless-looking, despite the official escort, and while a bit groggy, is soft-spoken and quiet, with a Central Casting voice that sounds close enough to Bill Dana's Astronaut Jose Jimenez that I have to stifle a giggle.

They need him to get checked out and medically cleared, so they can book him for DUI, evading arrest, etc. etc.

Seems that they observed him weaving, hit the flashing lights, he floored it, and in his haste to escape, crashed into half a dozen cars. So they pulled him out, noted his slurred speech, absence of alertness, and generally out-of-touch demeanor, hooked him up, and brought him to us for the once-over before getting him a bunk at the jailhouse. Another drunk off the road.

So they help him wobble into our mini-ER, pour him into a handy chair, and we began getting his info, checking him over, and such.

And my Spanish, far from flawless, is passable. I paid attention to four years in high school enough to get As the whole time. Which was great for passing tests, learning vocabulary, grammar, and syntax, but about worthless for holding an actual conversation. Two years in Hell, with native fluent Spanish-speaking staff, however, has given me all the medical vocabulary I never had, and a few thousand pacientes to practice on. So I figure I'm about a fourth-grader in my espanol, which ain't bad for a white kid, especially compared to the Californicated hispanic staff members born here whose only Spanish is "Taco Bell" and "margarita".

So between me and the doc in the jail ER, it transpires in our interview that Jose claims to have had no alcohol. Which screws up the math. Normally, you have to use the metric conversion, because anyone who admits to having had 2 beers, really had 36 beers. You arrive at this truth by doubling the reported number and adding 32, the same way you roughly convert Celsius to Farenheit. Countless blood alcohol level tests have shown my math to be a far more accurate system than simply relying on the truthful recollection of those who imbibe.

Further exploration of Jose's history reveals that he does, in fact, have the diabetes, and is not a bad diabetic, defined in my lexicon as one who sometimes forgets to take the meds, never forgets to have a meal, and always has dessert;but is rather more of a mediocre diabetic, in that he always remembers his insulin, but sometimes forgets minor details like, say, dinner. As happened tonight.

So putting a hold on other things, I grab a quick Accucheck of his blood sugar. Which, in the event, winds up being 22. It is "kind of low" only if you'd refer to a 747's wheels a few feet over your rooftop in the same manner. Jose's about to crash. Actually, already did, if we're counting cars.

So after getting some orange juice in Jose's hand, and then an IV, and then a couple of amps of D50 going in with some D5W, we get him tucked into a nice gurney, and doc calls the admitting resident about a reservation for a party of one.

After getting things settled a bit, I wander out for a little update with Jose's escorts, to update them on the possibility that his accomodations plans will likely be a little different than they'd planned.

"But he looked right at us, and took off the second we hit the flashing lights!" protests one of the officers, sure as anything he'd nailed an actual drunk and racked up another stat.

"Well," says I, "I went to nursing school, not the police academy or law school, but unless there's a radical change in things, I don't think you'll be getting him for DUI. I'm betting his insurance is going to be liable for those cars he hit, and I'm absolutely happy you got him off the roads tonight, but he's probably not drunk based on what we're seeing. But if it makes you feel any better, besides the lives of anyone he might have hit, you absolutely saved the guy's life, because he's about a half an inch from going to sleep and not waking up. Ever. And if he'd just been put in a holding cell, and checked on in the morning, this'da been a coroner's case. Glad you brought him. Maybe you can tell that to his family, in case they're any kind of pissed that he got busted tonight. Jose really owes you guys big time."

"And, much as using anything but English annoys me, and probably you, you might want to brush up, just a little, on your Spanish. It couldn't hurt."

"Probably not. Saved his life, huh? Thanks for the info. Really, thanks. What's the plan for him?"

"I'm pretty sure the doc's making arrangements to keep him here tonight. Which beats me finding him on the roads when I drive home, or you finding him cold and dead at the end of shift. Nice going. The doc or I'd be happy to tell your sergeant, if you want."

See, you just have to know how to talk to people.

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