This has been an excellent weekend so far. Mostly, that’s because I’ve remembered how to sleep the day away.
This weekend started for me with my first strangulation call. The call came in at 0100, and it was a request for my partner and me to relieve the unit before us, who had been on the call already for about six hours. Strangulations can be like that because they require a forensic nurse, and forensic nurses don’t just hang out at the ER. They aren’t the most common of nurses, and they sometimes have other things they have to do, so we were looking at the nurse being available around 1000. One of the primary reasons this sucks is because if a victim leaves the hospital and comes back when the nurse is available, there’s a decent likelihood that she’s going to be charged for 2 different ER visits.
In addition to the normal frustrations that come with having to wait 19 hours (and probably more, because there was also a sexual assault at the hospital waiting to be seen by the forensic nurse)… in addition to the frustration of waiting for 19+ hours, our victim hadn’t eaten, had been dragged through a wash without being able to shower, had an enormous bulge on her forehead where she’d been hit in the face with a gun, was bruised and scratched all over, and she needed to be ready to move into a shelter if the judge released the guy that morning or if someone paid his bond and he got out. Additionally, our victim had been regularly branded in private areas, so I’m sure she had some pain that she wasn’t even talking about.
When we got there, our victim and the other two advocates were all slouched into uncomfy waiting room chairs. They looked exhausted. Luckily, my partner was actually a staff advocate and thus knows how to get things for people, so she managed to get us into the quiet room (it’s a special room usually reserved for sexual assault victims, although I’ve also seen it used for families there for child death cases). My partner sent me to get food for our victim. The hospital actually has a fridge with food boxes in it that can be given to victims for free. We went ahead and filled out some paperwork to try to get $ for our victim to help pay for medical bills, travel expenses to and from court, and counseling.
Our victim was really talkative, but she was all about joking. She was laughing and saying silly things. She was glad that my partner and I both have some fat on us, because the advocates we’d relieved were both skinny. It’s the first time I’ve been with a victim who wanted to make light of everything. She said the other two advocates were too serious and she was glad we could laugh with her.
After about an hour and a half, our victim was finally given a bed, and they hooked her up to some monitors and gave her a hospital gown. A couple of hours later, we left her, hoping she’d rest. That was about 4:30 am.
I went home and slept for an hour or so, then I had to return my gear so the next shift could have it, and I will almost certainly never find out what happened to our victim. She may go back to her guy. She may move out of state. She may go back to using drugs. She may go to college. She may find a great guy to marry her and help her take care of her daughter. Her guy may be released with no bond, and he may kill her. Believe it or not, that’s not an unlikely outcome. This victim had a higher lethality risk than any I’ve seen. We always do a lethality assessment with intimate partner domestic violence victims. Victim advocacy requires a comfort with not knowing the outcome.
And then, I went home and slept. I slept off and on until 4:00 pm. It was glorious. I almost never have time to sleep after shifts like that.
Then, I got up, watched a series of lectures on Hitler, walked Moose, went for a run, ate dinner… and then I watched The Mighty Ducks and D2: The Mighty Ducks. It was a really nice recovery from the night before.
Now, I’m drinking coffee and writing. I’m loving that the air smells like Fall, even though it’s still 100 degrees out, and even though there are some terrible things that happen in this world, and in all likelihood, there are terrible things happening to someone in my city right now, I’m having a good weekend.