Thursday, September 20, 2007

Notes from an emergency room journal

After leaving my practice to pursue a career in art I spent the next four years working in a busy city emergency room. Covering vacations for the full time staff, I worked full time for 3 months (with no regular shift pattern) followed by 3 months off. The psychological “swing” between 3 months in the emergency room and 3 months in my studio was incredible. Within a year of this change my marraige of 17 years came to an end andI was entering the most difficult period in my life. My sketchbook/journal was a constant companion. I don’t know if I could have survived without it. What follows is a sampling of that experience recorded at all hours of the day and night whenever time and circmustances would permit.

In order to keep my drawings fresh and spontaneous I restricted myself to using only pens, my favorite being a pilot permanent felt tip or my old but faithful Parker 45 fountain pen (no longer available). Pencils and ballpoint pens were verboten!!!

A few words about our emergency room.

Area I...where all non life threatening problems were seen. Usually a very long lonely 10 hour shift which felt more like 14 hours.

Area II...Trauma and life threatening illnesses and injuries were managed here. Almost always a hectic, stressfull, but very fast 8 hour shift. This is where all the “action” was, as well as most of the ER staff, including the ever eager emergency medicine residents.

Military time...0800 to 1600 hrs-8am to 4pm
1600 to 2400 hrs-4pm to midnite
0000 to 0800 hrs-I’d rather not talk about it!

Room 21...Ob-gyn

Room 22...Acute psych cases. Patients frequently shackled and cuffed when brought in by the police.

Some of the sketches have been reworked or touched up when necessary to protect individual identies, or, when my handwriting required translating.

I hope you enjoy the babble from my pens: drawings, comments, and meaningless doodles, all created in my effort to survive the major crisis that was my life for those few incredible years.


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