Your Most Expensive Drink

Photo by Michael Discenza on Unsplash

Who here has awakened in an ER after a binge? I ask this of most Cal Poly students before any presentation. Surprisingly, no one ever raises a hand. I’m not sure if it’s shame or poor recall. Statistics certainly suggest that some hands should go up, because on a Friday/Saturday night it’s not uncommon for 3-6 Cal Poly or Cuesta students to be metabolizing in any number of positions in the ER. Inebriate care is part of bread and butter emergency medicine and is what led me to start Endorphin Power Company in Albuquerque.

I’ve only lived here about 3 years, but it’s clear that San Luis Obispo has essentially two states of being; one with students and the other without. While they add incredible energy and life to the town, their alcohol intake is nothing to sneeze at, and it definitely impacts the care of all patients in the ER. I have to admit, it’s hard to watch intoxicated students ebb and flow with such frequency. Once sober they generally stagger home with their semi-sober comrades without any meaningful follow up. During “WOW week” (Cal Poly’s Week of Welcome orientation) we have an emergency call schedule to prep for the additional grumbling, tearful, vomiting masses.

Such orientation seems inadequate. I often wonder what the conversations are like with parents in the days to weeks following such emergency visits. Unfortunately, I suspect many happen only after medical bills come through. Pumping stomachs went away 20+ years ago and the majority of inebriate care amounts to monitoring in a safe place, plus/minus saline, plus/minus barf bags. More important are the follow up conversations. I see many lost opportunities with the current system. Short of convincing the Cal Poly powers that be to open an ΕΠΨ, feel free to call Pre-R if you need someone to help you survive that last most expensive drink.

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