ArchivedLogs:A Needle Pulling Thread
|A Needle Pulling Thread|
A little stitching up.
<NYC> Common Ground Clinic - Clinton
A dingy waiting room with a line of rickety chairs, a small glass table with a set of permanently out-of-date magazines, a set of plastic holding racks with a number of informational pamphlets about STIs and partner abuse. This place is not, to be sure, the most cheerful on earth, but for many of its clientele it is the best they have. The Common Ground Clinic's staff provides free and low-cost medical care on a sliding scale to many of Manhattan's poorest residents, without checking for insurance, immigration status or many other things that bar entry for many of them to traditional medical care. There is counselling available, too, and once a week social workers to help people find resources for getting on their feet. The wait times are long, but the volunteer staff here is dedicated (if always overworked.)
The clinic's door swings open and admits a swirl of frigid air, and Shelby. The girl has her hoodie pulled up to hide much of her face and her hands are hidden, arms crossed over her chest and fingers stuffed into her armpits. She takes little to no notice of the waiting room, shuffling instead towards the counter with its flanking cubbies of informational material. No move is made to sign in--she's looking at the person behind the counter with eyes that show the whites all the way around. The tip of her tongue touches her blueish lips and there are flecks of blood on her face, vying for space with the freckles. "Um. Can I...I think I need. To see a doctor. Please?"
The waiting room is, as it generally is, crowded; with drop-in hours for free STI testing today there are a number of people, many in layers of shabby clothing, scattered around the chairs. The young man at the front desk looks up at Shelby, automatically reaching for the sign-in sheet as he begins his standard cheerful, "Hello, welcome to Common --" And then trails off. He looks her over, taking in blue-tinged lips, taking in blood, and he reaches instead for the phone. "Doctor Toure. There's a patient here -- no, it might be urgent. Yes. Yes. Thank you." The man gets up, disappears from behind his window to reappear at the door to the back. "Come this way, a nurse will be with you in a minute." Shelby is led to a room in the back, a standard sort of patient exam room. And left there. To wait.
The service here is excellent, or so she'd think if she were in any state to think at all. Shelby, in uncharacteristic silence, keeps her head down and trails after the receptionist. Before he slips from the room, she mumbles a terse, "Thanks," and then waits for the click of the door. Once that's heard, she eases her hands from her armpits and studies them, wincing. Light from the overheads catches in her palms, sparkling against the shards of glass she didn't successfully shake free earlier. More glass tinks to the floor when she stomps her feet, falling from the folds of her pants and jacket. "...son of a bitch," she breathes. Waiting.
It is a short while before the door opens again, a young woman in pale green scrubs and a badge clipped to her pants -- Marissa Nichols -- slipping into the room with a clipboard in hand. "Hello," she says, smiling at her patient. "How are you doing today?" she asks, looking over Shelby briefly. She reaches for the glove holder next to the door and pulls on a pair before approaching Shelby. "What happened to you?" she asks, turning towards the cabinet. She comes out a moment later with a plastic bag, which she tears open. Inside, there is a plastic mask, which she attaches to a spigot of sorts that comes out of the wall. She opens the valve carefully, listening for a hiss, then comes around to the front of Shelby. "I'm going to put this mask on you," she says. "It's just oxygen."
In the interim, Shelby returns to hugging herself and fighting the shivers that gradually creep in. She's eyeing the small rolly stool when the door opens again, so doesn't have a chance to try to sit down. Instead she turns to put her back towards the wall and returns the young woman's study with one of her own. "Um." One can almost see the gears grinding from lack of oil in her brain. "I...fell through a window. By accident," she finally decides. "I just...uh, maybe some stitches? And anti...the pills?" But she lifts her chin to accept the mask, setting her feet wider to compensate for a slight swaying. Belatedly, with a voice hollowed by the mask, she adds, "I need. Stitches."
"Sit, please," The nurse says, indicating to the examination bench with a gloved hand. "Fell through a window. Where are you cut?" she asks, a note of concern in her voice. "Have you lost a lot of blood?" This is, of course, somewhat of a relative thing. The nurse turns even as she asks the question, stepping over to open the door and call down the hallway, "Marcy, can you get Doctor Toure and a suture kit?"
"My hands." They are indeed cut and smeared with blood, brighter than the spatters that mark her face. Shelby gingerly eases herself onto the bench, the paper crumpling beneath her. She moves like an old woman but that's explained when she says, "I think there's still glass in my hair. And clothes." There are so many clothes. Touching her will require firm pressure before anything like flesh and bones can be felt. Her forehead rumples with concern at the call and she takes care to stress, "It was an accident," before shivering again.
"An accident," the nurse repeats, closing the door behind herself. "That's a lot of glass. Is there any damage beneath your clothing?" she asks, drawing a curtain around the doorway. "Or is it just your hands? We'll get you all cleaned up." She walks over to the sink and retrieves a basin which she fills with warm water. The nurse takes out several gauze pads, and lines them up on the counter. Then she pulls the trashcan with her foot over towards Shelby.
"I don't think so...I've got, um. A lot on. It's cold out." The oxygen is cold too but Shelby breathes it in deeply; it helps even if it also seems to encourage the shaking. She clenches her jaw against it and watches the nurse as carefully as she can. "You guys...you don't tell anyone, right? This place? I heard. I heard you're good guys," she says, hands curled to her chest. "I don't really have any money either. Until Thursday."
"Anything you say is strictly between you and me." The nurse says, gently. "Don't worry about the money for now, alright? We'll take care of all that later - let's just get you taken care of first." she says. "I'll turn up the heat in here a little bit, so you're not cold." she says, turning to twist a small dial next to the door. "Go on. Let's see what the damage is."
Shelby breathes out, fogging the mask. Her forehead creases again, this time in distress, but she manages to keep her eyes dry as she presents her hands, palms up, to be studied. The largest gash is on the ball of her left thumb, three-quarters of an inch long; there are smaller cuts here and there, a couple with shards or flecks of glass still visible, ground into the skin. Already pale, the teen studies this damage with a distinct loss of color. "Good, 'cause I don't think...I'll be able to play on Thursday. Guitar. I had a gig."
"Ouch, that looks like it hurts," The nurse says, sympathetically. She goes to the drawer once more, coming out with a big syringe that has no needle. She goes over and draws water into it which she uses to rinse out the wounds, warm water gently spraying into the cuts. "Sorry, I need to get the glass all out. I know it hurts," she says, as she holds Shelby's hand above the basin to let it drip back in. "What kind of music do you play?" she asks, as she works at the injuries. After washing them all and getting the glass out, she turns to the gauze, delicately probing at the injuries.
There is a knock at the door, once twice thrice, before it opens and another man walks in, tall and dark-skinned and wearing a labcoat, sleeves rolled up to the elbows, over his dress shirt and slacks. No tie. "Hello." His greeting is soft, eyes flicking over Shelby for a long moment. "What happened today?"
Newsflash: Shelby is a big baby when it comes to pain. -Now- she tears up, and there are numerous exclamations through the following minutes, yelps interspersed with almost-answers to the distracting conversation being aimed at her. Something about how she's going to be a singer-songwriter one day, bigger than Taylor Swift. Maybe. She's looking wrung out by the time the doctor appears, too drained to do more than look him over with a distinct lack of wariness. "I fell through a window, it was an accident," she repeats hollowly, trying to keep her hands still. "Can I have drugs? Please?"
The nurse glances back at Rasheed, some unspoken communication passing between her and the doctor in the look. "I'll get you something for the pain as soon as we get this bleeding stopped." she reassures, putting some pressure down on the injuries gently. "Bigger than Taylor Swift, huh? Well, I'll tell you what. When you get your first Grammy, don't forget about us, hmm?" she says, lightly, smiling. She turns her head, murmuring, "It doesn't look too deep, Doctor, though it's right on the muscles."
"An accident, mm." Rasheed has a cart with him, and he drifts closer with it after nodding at the nurse. He turns aside to pull on a pair of gloves of his own. He does not interfere with the nurse's ministrations, instead setting out his things neatly on a sheet of paper atop the cart. "You're going to win a Grammy? Then we'll really have to get this fixed up properly. Don't worry. The nurse will get you something for the pain," even if it is only a bit of ibuprofen, "but we'll numb all of that well before we get started. When was the last time you ate? Drank?"
"Fuck yeah, I'm going to win...wait, numb? Are you going to stick me with needles?" For a girl with torn up hands, Shelby is awfully apprehensive on this point. Her eyes go large and round and pleading as they shift from nurse to doctor--they say please no, she has suffered enough. "Can't you like, give me something now? I, uh...shit." She must be feeling better, or at least steadier. "I don't remember. Around lunch time? I had a Slim Jim. Why? Is that important?"
"Don't worry." The nurse assures her, gently. "We won't do anything until you are all numbed up." she says, voice still bright. "Well, we'll make sure you get a full meal after this is all over." She steps away for a moment, pulling off her gloves and rummaging through drawers. A new pair of gloves, yay! And then, Shelby's favorite medical implement gets brought out of the drawer - a syringe, complete with very sharp, very pointy, needle device. She steps over to Rasheed's side, taking out a small vial and filling the needle with a carefully measured amount of the liquid. She clips a cap back on and places the syringe down on the cart next to Rasheed's other supplies. "I'll be right back, doctor. I'll get an... iso-butyl-propanoic-phenolic acid."
"Suturing will involve needles, yes," Rasheed says mildly. "Numbing it before will, as well." He sits down on the spinny stool, pulling it up beside Shelby. His hand extends, beckoning towards her left hand with its larger cut; his other picks up the needle the nurse prepared. "The needle will pinch, but only for a moment. The numbing kicks in fairly quickly. Are there any other injuries we should know about?"
Anxiety levels begin to creep up again, defying the shock-created numbness Shelby had suffered upon arrival. She begins huffing oxygen just a little faster. "But...but...wait, -acid-? You're gonna use -acid-?" From the way her gaze is flying between them, it is clear she feels she's wandered into some medieval--oh, wait. "Like, acid to the face acid, or the good acid? Is that...you can do that? Shit, sticking someone with needles while they're tripping kinda seems like a bad idea..." Worried eyebrows are lifted at Rasheed but he's got her blocked in between the stool and the tray. Her hand is offered reluctantly. "I don't think so. I mean, I got glass in my hair, I think, but my clothes kept the rest off me."
"It's a painkiller," Rasheed says, as the nurse heads out. "It comes in pill form. It is going to pinch now, just breathe. We don't," he is continuing this assurance with a faint curl of smile, even as he is holding Shelby's hand firm and poking the thin needle into the flesh around the cut; it's a small poke, with a small injection of anaesthetic. And then another, and another, tiny injections in the area surrounding the injury to leave it number, "generally provide hallucinogenics here. Although you'd be surprised at the number of requests we receive. What kind of music do you play?" Another poke, this time near the first numbed injection site. "Do you feel that?"
"I wouldn't be surprised...oh god, I can't look." Shelby proves it by scrunching her eyes tightly shut and refusing to do so. She isn't shy with flinching and making soft, pained sounds either--though those, at least, necessitate her following doctor's orders to breathe. "I should've just taken off...oh god oh god..." She's still complaining when the poke is -not- felt, requiring her to crack one eye open to have a look at what he's asking about. Nausea and fascination war together. "...that's like...it's not even my hand..." A finger twitches on command. Nothing! "Creepy. Um. Everything? I'm a busker. I do requests. Are you gonna sew it now?"
"It feels a little strange, doesn't it? But. Hopefully. Better than the alternative." Rasheed pokes a different spot lightly, setting the needle back down after satisfying himself that the flesh has numbed. "A busker. Well. I'll try to get you back to your work as soon as possible. You will need to rest this for a little while, though. I am going to sew it, yes." Look! He's picking up another needle. Sharp and curved. With thread. Do you play all over the city? What's your favorite to play when you're not taking /other/ people's requests?"
"How long? I told the nurse, I got a gig on Thursday. My first big one," Shelby says, as if it weren't just a half-hour open mic slot. The nausea may linger but she's watching closely, the fascination gradually edging out now that numbness has taken over. Just...please do ignore the dramatic shudder that ripples through her at the sight of a -curved- needle. "I, uh. Yeah. All over. Parks, mostly. Unless the cops--I mean, y'know." She shifts uncomfortably on the table and paper crumples. "I like Muse a lot."
"Police have no appreciation for the arts, mm?" Rasheed's tone is casual, even as he begins stitching, pulling the skin back together careful and neat. "Thursday --" His lips press together, his eyes flicking up to Shelby's face and back down to her hand. "You will want to take it easy with these sutures for at least a week; you don't want to strain the flesh around them or pull it out. What sort of a gig is it?" Despite the apology in his tone, he smiles, slightly. "Muse. They do have some good songs."
There is a knock at the door, and the nurse enters once more, a small paper cup with two pills inside. She gets another, larger, paper cup from the cabinet and fills it with water from the sink, then brings pills and water over to Shelby. "Drink up," she says, holding one then the other out with a smile. "Doctor, I'm going to put your patient in 3 to sleep in the back for a couple hours so he can wait for his results to come back." she murmurs, into his ear.
There is a mutter of, "Fuck," just before the nurse re-enters. A sigh follows, and a dejected Shelby has no energy with which to refuse the "acid". The pills and the water go down the hatch, shot-fashion, as ordered. "Thanks," she mumbles as the cup is given back and she returns to watching the surgery. Watching her own skin tug and stretch leaves her grimacing again. "A friend got me a slot at her coffee shop. I guess maybe I can get another." Bummed. Bummed and tired. She sighs again but the exchange between doctor and nurse leaves her glancing up.
"I could write you a doctor's note," Rasheed says solemnly. "Perhaps she can schedule you for another week. Come February people will still enjoy coffee, and still enjoy Muse." His brows pull together at the murmur from the nurse, and he tips his head slightly. "I know it isn't standard hours, but if he wants a shower when he gets up, I told him he could go downstairs. Thank you." He turns his attention back to stitching. Slow. Careful. "Your other hand looks much better. It will take bandaging, but it should be back in shape before long."
Shelby is listening, quietly, but she perks slightly--more for the assessment of her hand than the prospect of a note. "I guess maybe folks'll feel sorry for me, anyway...when I -can- play again, you guys oughta come out. I can give you a shout out or something." Her cheeks puff out as she breathes slowly, giving the stitches the side-eye. Some of the novelty has worn off. "You got showers here?"
"Perhaps we can," Rasheed glances to the nurse, who just offers Shelby a quick smile before she leaves. "Where is this coffeeshop? You'll have to let me know when you're up. And," he says, lightly, threading the end of the sutures neatly through themselves to tie it off, "when you are famous you can put a little credit in your debut album. The clinic that helped save your music career. We do have showers. Every day until noon, people can come in and use them."
"I dunno the address exactly but I got the card in my pocket." Shelby head-tilts in that direction. "When I make it big, I can totally credit you guys. If I can play again when this is healed up." She twitches her fingers again as if testing that prospect, possibly already planning the tale of woe and uncertainty that will be shared with her comrades. The hand not being operated on lifts to rub knuckles against the mask--her nose itches. "That's pretty handy. The showers. I'll have to remember that for just in case."
"There are a lot of services we offer here, if you find yourself in need." Stitches finished, Rasheed opens a sterile packet of ointment, dabbing it gently against the stitching with a gloved finger. The other cuts take less intense work, to dress and bandage, though he does this with the same methodical care as he did the stitching. "I'll get you a brochure. Just so you know. I know in this city it can be hard sometimes to find care. And it is a very accident-prone place. Will you be safe," he asks, in the same calm-light tone as everything else, "when you leave here?"
"Yeah? Awesome." Slow and methodical he may be, even gentle considering the work required, but Shelby is liberal with her wincing--if she's looking when he's working on a numb patch, she'll wince then too. Oh the drama. But it's a sign of feeling better, along with the color returning to lips and cheeks. "That's kinda cool. I know this guy, he's working on opening up a place like this too. I mean, down the road. I was gonna go see him but I saw this place going by and figured...I probably wouldn't make it, you know?" The question elicits a mild shrug. "I think," she hopes, "this was like, a one time thing."
"A place like this?" Rasheed asks, quietly curious. "It is always nice to see more places like this in the city. The ones that are here are --" His lips twitch, slightly. "Fairly strained for resources, generally. I'm glad you came in, though. These things are best dealt with quickly." A final taping of bandaging, and he releases Shelby's hands, standing to wad up pretty much everything he just used in its paper bed and throw the whole lot into the BIOHAZARD trash can. "Though I /do/ usually leave my patients here with the firm hope I do not have to see them again. If there is trouble again, we have social workers on staff. You don't have to tell them anything more than you're comfortable with, but they can generally help." He is pulling off his gloves, squirting hand sanitizer into his hands. Only after this does he take a clinic brochure from a holder on the wall, offering it out to her. The picture on the cover is one of some Young People. Clearly Alternative Young People. They have /piercings/. Are multiracial. They do not have speech bubbles that say LOOK AT THIS WELCOMING PLACE, but they might as well.
"Yeah, like a clinic? For everyone. Maybe he doesn't know about this place." Shelby lifts her hands to inspect them, turning them back and forth to study the bandages. They pass muster--because she knows what a proper bandage looks like, really--and she's able to ease the mask up and over her head. It's offered in exchange for the brochure. "Sweet," she sums up. "Pretty glossy...you just need some blue folks, maybe a rock dude or two." Not quite up to grinning, she does smile at him. "Thanks for this. And the hands. Um...the nurse said, money isn't really...?"
"For everyone," Rasheed agrees lightly, "we try to be." The bandages are bandagey. Rasheed's specialty is, admittedly, not stitching up hands, but there are some things all surgeons must know and wound care is one he has mastered many years ago. "It's understandably difficult," he adds, with a slight smile, "to find blue people willing to be photographed and widely distributed. Though one of our patients /is/ blue, and wants to be a model. Perhaps once your career takes off you can grace our literature; we have never had a rock-star before." His head shakes, at her last question. "All our services operate on a sliding scale. Our patients only pay what they can afford."
Shelby carefully, slowly, folds the brochure and maneuvers it into a pocket. It takes some stuffing but she manages it finally. "The ones I know probably wouldn't go for pictures," she agrees, "but that's still pretty cool." If she were less exhausted, she might preen at the rock-star acknowledgement. The teen manages a deeper smile, exposing the gap between her teeth. "Okay. Maybe when I'm flush, I'll come make up for running out on the check now," she says, even as she begins edging for the door.
Rasheed returns Shelby's smile, quick but warm. "Talk to Matt at the front desk. He'll book your appointment to have these removed." He doesn't say goodbye, having apparently exhausted his Bedside Manner. He just nods, and then pushes his cart back out of the room, hurrying along. With a waiting room like his, no doubt he has more patients to see.