This story from my nursing career is so preposterous that is must be absolutely true. As indeed, and I am prepared to swear on a stack of bedpans, it is.
TENTH FLOOR: I had just dropped a patient off on ward 10A. I stepped into an empty elevator. Simple.
I pushed the button for ground level.
NINTH FLOOR: Into the elevator stepped this rather attractive medical student.
The doors closed …..and turning to face me, she asked how I was doing today.
Time to be cool. I began to say something that was simultaneously funny and rather impressively intellectual. Even if I do say so myself.
But in fact what came out of my slightly open mouth was a large bubble of saliva.
Any prospect of impressing the med student became instantly null and void as my saliva bubble was inflated with the rapidly expanding volume of aforementioned verbal filling.
Against all the laws of physics pertaining to surface tension of saliva, or bubble thermo-dynamics, this bubble did not pop. It would not pop.
In but a jiff, it had grown to rather substantial dimensions. As saliva bubbles go.
For a long instant we both just stood there, in agonising silence, both not staring at my bubble.
And then with a feint…. pop!, that released small sploshings of saliva to the four corners of the elevator…. it was gone.
Unsurprisingly, I could not think of a single funny or impressively intellectual thing to say to fill the now gaping void left by my bubble.
The med student couldn’t think of anything either.
She just smiled weakly and wiped a little something off her blouse as she stepped out at the next floor.
EIGHTH FLOOR: In stepped an elderly lady, wheeling her IV pole.
Her daughter was fluffing & fussing about her as the wheels of the pole clattered over the lip of the elevator door.
They both smiled at me and said hello.
I dared not part my lips….so I just smiled.
SIXTH FLOOR: They both clattered out.
But just as the doors began to close, the pole-granny bent forward to disentangle her IV, and dropped a long, wet, reptilian fart.
I swear for a moment her gown billowed out towards me. The back sides of the gown parting briefly …offering a glimpse of great grandma underpants, before collapsing back into respectability like some sort of deflating parachute.
They never even looked back to check for survivors.
The doors closed and I was trapped alone with her voluminous flatus aftertaste.
FIFTH FLOOR: Two doctors, a speech pathologist, a physiotherapist, a patient in a wheelchair and a wardsman all pile in.
Now, I have no idea how you are supposed to convince all the people getting in on your elevator ride that the horrendous stench swirling about the elevator was not of your making.
There is no point in even trying really. I just stood there. Forlornly.
As all medical people are well aware, flatulence has 200 times more affinity in binding to haemaglobin than oxygen.
So the two doctors, the speech pathologist, the physiotherapist, the patient in a wheelchair and the wardsman were all were taking these teeny tiny shallow breaths through their mouths and trying not pass out.
Eye contact was minimal. Except for the patient who stared at me with this…. ‘that is just so unprofessional’… look in his eyes.
GROUND FLOOR: Everyone spills out of the elevator.
With much the same decorum as a bunch of survivors evacuating a crashed plane that is filling with smoke….and lava….and sharks.
I peel off and head back to the ED to pick up another patient transfer to…. 11B.
OK. What could possibly go wrong?