Updated: Apr 27
Warning: There is a LOT of cursing involved in this story.
The page out was for a middle-aged female with psychiatric problems. We knew where we were going; we were quite familiar with this patient. She says she got the New Jersey voodoo because she ticked someone off before she left Jersey and headed down south. I wasn't one to argue,
When we arrived on scene Law Enforcement was already there. The patient was standing in her living room surrounded by cops (not in a bad way, it was just a small house so there was no where to go). There was an old tv in the living room.. one of the tube type ones, but a big one. I mean, it was like a 50 inch tube tv. Anyway, there was a frying pan inside it. The gentleman sitting on the couch told me that the patient stated she was told to throw the frying pan into the tv by the VooDoo man. The patient later confirmed this story.
The patient then disappeared into her bedroom with a police officer to pack some clothes to take to the hospital. She knew she was in for at least a few days stay. She wondered back into the living room and back to the bedroom a few times, like she kept forgetting something and needing to go back, except she wasn't holding anything. She snuck behind the police officers about the 4th time she came back aimlessly wandering for clothes and headed to the kitchen. I spoke up then and interrupted the conversation my partner was having with the officers.
"There are knives in the kitchen," I said as one of the officers recognized the threat. Nothing happened. Don't get excited. She wasn't going for a knife. She was looking for her phone charger. In the kitchen. Yeah, it makes no sense but neither does a frying pan in the television. The officer asked the patient to come back into the living room and she immediately did. For once she was compliant. It was pleasant. The man on the couch gave the patient her charger, it had been plugged in behind the couch, and we headed outside toward the ambulance. The patient was carrying two large bags, those canvas bags with no top, just open to the world. She handed me the bags and I helped her into the truck. Normally I would put a psych patient on the captain's chair (the seat behind the stretcher), but for some reason this day I decided not to. I strapped her in to the stretcher and hooked her up to the monitor: I put the blood pressure cuff on her arm and the pulse oximeter on her finger.
"Oh no, oh no, oh no," she said as she jerked her head to the side to stare at the blood pressure cuff. "It's not gonna work."
"What do you mean, 'It's not gonna work'?" I spoke up as I pressed the blood pressure button on the monitor.
Shaking slightly from fear she said, "He said it's not gonna work. He's not gonna let it."
I tried not to laugh because it's not supposed to be funny, but this job definitely puts some dark humor in your heart. Anyway. The blood pressure pops up... oh wait, it's not there. The line between the systolic and diastolic blood pressure was the only thing that popped up, no numbers. I blinked slowly and looked around the ambulance, everything in place, everything should be working, especially a $20,000 monitor. So I tried again. The patient's voice was quivering as she tried to explain that the VooDoo man was telling her bad things, but that she was trying not to listen. And the BP pops up, BAM, oh wait. Nope. Just a line again. No numbers. I took off the cuff and repositioned it but it still didn't work. I took out the manual sphygmomanometer (BP cuff) and took the BP myself. Eh, a little high. Nothing to write home about. I took the manual cuff off and put it back in the bag. I was sitting beside the patient on the bench seat when she says "do you want it? You can take it." With her voice still quivering she says "you can, if you want it." I'm not gonna lie, I was tempted to say 'oh yeah sure give it to me.' But something in me said this was serious. Something that science can't explain, that I shouldn't believe in, the VooDoo, had my full attention. "No thank you" I said as I stood up and moved to sit behind the patient in the captain's chair. This way I could reach the blood pressure button without reaching over the patient. I pushed the button. After all, I knew she had a blood pressure. I checked it on her other arm myself. Boop. Still didn't work. Just a line. No blood pressure.
She had begun to cry softly but suddenly it was like a light switch was flicked on and she jerked up with her head straight ahead "Fuck you bitch!" It came in a new voice, a male voice, a deep scratchy male voice.
"Excuse me?" I asked as I tried that damn bp button again.
"I said Fuck YOU Bitch!" I don't know why "he" decided to emphasize the you in that statement, but he did.
My partner keyed up on the radio to check us out at the hospital. "5313 to Pitt County"
I hear my partner laughing. He was still keyed up when the patient screamed the last expletive.
After Pitt County replied, my partner spoke as quickly as possible "check-us-out-at-the-hospital" but this time the patient said nothing. I looked over at the monitor, no BP. SERIOUSLY? I wanted to show that "VooDoo" who was boss and get a damn blood pressure to pop up, but apparently he was showing me today. I took the patient off the monitor and dropped the bp cuff and pulse oximeter in the floor to be cleaned and put away later. My partner rolled the patient out of the truck as the male voice dominated conversation "Fuck you mother fucker!" There was more, so much more, I can't remember it all anymore. It was a long time ago.
We rolled into the emergency department. One of the first areas you go by is the time clock. It was almost shift change and there were a couple nurses waiting for the right time to clock out standing in the hallway. "BITCH" the patient screamed in the scruffy male voice. "Was that the EMS people?" one nurse asked the other
"Are you kidding me?!" I asked and huffed. I wanted to say something meaner, but professionality and all that jazz. As we rolled up to the nurses station to give report and be assigned a room the patient started shaking the stretcher and screaming more random expletives. We had to slam the stretcher up against the wall, or it would have tipped over. Those things are pretty dang top heavy. Anywho, we were assigned to go to "gold side" which is where psych, mild trauma, and non-emergency medical problems get assigned. We rolled around to gold side with the patient's deep scratchy voice yelling out curses along the way.
As we arrived on gold side a hospital police officer walked up to me clearly freaking out. He recognized the patient and knew about her 'New Jersey VooDoo.' "I've got to go get some chicken bones" he said to me. "You're kidding right?" I replied.
"Nope. I'm serious! You know she can give it to you, right? They can sense people that can take it, and they'll offer it to you. If you accept it, it transfers to you." Wait. What. Huh. Did he just say what I think he just said. Dear God, I'm glad I told her no thank you. What the heck was that about?! We transferred the patient to the hospital stretcher and I gave report to the nurse. The patient had stopped screaming and was calm again. "Where did that officer go?" I asked the nurse.
"Oh he was serious. He's scared shitless of this stuff. He's hiding."
As we left I told my partner about what she'd said to me, and what the police officer said. He just laughed, but not gonna lie, I was shook.
Several years later the patient was seen in town by another provider. She had gotten on schizophrenia meds and the voice had gone away. I guess it really wasn't that New Jersey VooDoo after all.
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