Doctor Joe Early walked out of Treatment Room Two at Rampart General Hospital’s emergency ward and shook his head in disbelief as the door closed behind him. A slight grin on his face, he greeted Head Nurse Dixie McCall, who’d just returned from a half hour break.
“Hi, Dix. How was lunch?”
“As good as hospital cafeteria food gets,” she offered with a smile. “Looks like I missed something here though,” she commented with a glance over his shoulder, toward the door. “You came out of there looking rather amused.”
“Well, I probably shouldn’t be taking it so lightly. But you remember when. . .” he paused a moment as he studied her face in an effort to predict her reaction. He couldn’t. “I’ll. . .um. . . let him tell you,” he said as he motioned in the direction of the room with his head.
She eyed him warily.
“Don’t worry, Dix.” Again he couldn’t help but smile. “You’ll see.”
She turned to watch as he walked past her, and down the corridor. Once he was out of sight, she looked curiously at the door before stepping over to it and peering inside.
Dressed in blue jeans and a white collared shirt with rolled up sleeves, John Gage looked over in surprise from where he was seated sideways on the exam table. He’d been studying his right hand, his fingers extended and slightly bent.
“Johnny, what happened? What’re you doing here?”
“If I tell ya, you promise not to laugh?”
She held up her right hand, three fingers straight, the tip of her little finger tucked under her thumb. “Girl Scouts honor.”
When he raised his eyebrows in question, she shrugged as she walked over. “Once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout.”
He held up his hand with an embarrassed grin. There was a gap between his right middle and ring finger that formed a ‘V’. “Looks like the Vulcan solute from Star Trek, huh?” He laughed slightly under his breath.
“Your finger’s swollen.”
He brought his hand in close and looked at his plumper ring finger again. “Yeah, I think it’s just sprained. Doctor Early thinks it's fractured. He just left to check on the x-rays.”
“What’d you do to it?”
“Well, you’re not gonna believe this, but a shoppin' cart got me.”
Now it was Dixie’s turn to raise her eyebrows in question.
“I went for an empty cart someone left in the lot near where I parked. I guess my mistake was grabbing it on the basket end instead of the handle. ‘Cause my finger was through one of the holes of the basket and when I pulled on the cart, it jerked. Turns out it had a bad wheel. So my finger got pulled to the side at an odd angle till I got it freed. And this was the result,” he explained, again holding up his right hand.
He waited for the snicker. But the nurse remained quiet.
“Go ahead. You can laugh. Really.”
“John Gage, even without the Girl Scout promise I wouldn’t laugh. I seem to recall a time I kicked a shopping cart and broke my toe. You and Roy were the only ones who didn’t give me a hard time. I’m certainly not gonna give you one now.”
“That’s right. I forgot all about that. I guess we and shopping carts don’t get a long too well, huh?”
“Kind of looks that way.”
Suddenly the door opened and Joe Early walked in with a large envelope in his hand. “Just as I thought, you have a fracture at the base of the middle phalanges.” He turned on the light to the viewing screen and pulled the x-ray out of the envelope, then stuck it up onto the backlit surface.
“Come on over and you can see.”
Johnny hopped off the table and did as requested, Dixie right behind him.
“You’ll notice the fracture right here,” the doctor said as he pointed to just above the lower knuckle of the injured finger, where a thin short vertical line was present. “The tendon held like it’s supposed to, but unfortunately the bone didn’t fare so well. It’s not a severe break, but it’ll take awhile to heal.”
The off-duty paramedic frowned. “Ah man. . .just what I needed. Lemme guess. . .four weeks in a splint, right?”
“That’s right. And at least two weeks beyond that without any strenuous use.”
“Man, I don’t believe this.”
“You know, the two of you should get together and write a book,” he commented, the amused grin having returned to his face. “ You could call it ‘What Not to Do With a Shopping Cart’.”
Johnny and Dixie glanced at one another, the paramedic rolling his eyes and the nurse shaking her head, both with a slight grin. It was kind of funny they’d each tangled with a cart and lost.
But it wasn’t until Doctor Brackett walked in with a greeting of “Well, I see you two peas in a pod found each other” that they realized neither one of them was ever going to live their mishaps down. At least not as far as the doctors were concerned.
Note: I fractured a finger on a shopping cart at work last week and immediately thought of Dixie. Then Johnny. . . lol Shopping carts can be dangerous and it doesn't take a whole lot to hurt yourself.
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