John D. Bridgers M.D.
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A Novel Dime - The Emergency Room

A Novel Dime
The Emergency Room

As any who have read this far have found, the milieu of various hospital emergency rooms has been a favored vehicle for odd events.

Interestingly enough, the old E.R. in the original High Point Memorial Hospital -- certainly one of the most impoverished of such facilities in which I have worked -- was, at once, one of the richest in interest.

The story before us, however, was worth but a thin dime. 

One night the E.R. nurse had seen me come into the hospital for rounds, and she called me on the pediatric floor and asked that I drop by on my way out.

When I arrived I found a young girl and her mother, the child of early school-age, in absolutely no distress and smiling broadly.

When I asked the mother about her daughter's problem, she simply squeezed the child's cheeks together and pointed an opposite finger into her open mouth.

To better see, I sat the child on the end of the examining table, and bent down so I could see up into her mouth itself.

Firmly stuck in the utmost arch of her hard palate was a dime.

She obviously had pressed the coin into place, and the vacuum created between the coin and the roof of her mouth was holding it in place.

The trick was to get it out without having her swallow it, or even worse, having it fall into her trachea -- that is, her windpipe.

I pumped the treatment table to its highest position, made her lie prone with her head over the end, and while supporting her forehead with my left hand, put my right hand below her mouth with index finger extended.

We had but two small examining and treatment rooms and Dr. Earl Shaeffer, on of our orthopedic surgeons was attending someone with an arm fracture across the hall.

However, all his supplies were stored in the room I was using so he came in to my treatment room to procure several rolls of plaster bandages just as I got my patient positioned.

He started to walk out just as I was reaching into her mouth and said:

  "What in the hell are you up to?"

He no sooner spoke then I pried the coin loose with my finger nail and it fell into my open palm.

Earl then said:

"Well, I'll be damned.  You could make a million dollars      with that trick!"

Contrary to that prediction this maneuver added nothing to my fortune -- I didn't even ask for a fee, but the mileage I've gotten from this story has been worth a lot.




June 4, 1996


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