Late shifts at the hospital bring on problems you are less likely to encounter in the morning or afternoon. During the day, the people that come in are often scheduled for something. Late at night, the admissions are usually emergencies, things that couldn't and wouldn't wait till morning. People would come in at the last possible moment, and often this would make your work harder as you deal with not only a sick patient, but one that is tired as well. After more than my share of these shifts, I had come to realize that it was hard to be prepared for everything.
It had been a particularly rainy week, and so along with the normal worries that come from the job, there were also the threat of flooding and power outages. There were of course back up systems in the hospital, but the risk was still there.
As per the usual I was briefed on the patients I had for the night. Most of them were more or less routine, but one in particular I was warned about. He was a middle aged man, probably no older than mid to late thirties. The night before the man in question had stumbled through the Emergency entrance, his clothes soaked and on the verge of collapse. He had been rushed to a room, where despite the weather he was initially treated for severe dehydration.
His appearance had shocked me, especially so early in my career, and I had to stay on the other side of the cloth screen to keep myself from staring during the briefing. He had black hair and a large, sloping forehead. His eyebrows were missing, and the skin around it was heavily discolored. Much of the flesh on his face and arms was malformed, deep divots and pits running along the flesh, sometimes only settling slightly above the muscle. His nose was missing most of its flesh, and his eyes were dark and squinted even when open.
No form of identification could be found on him, and he refused to talk to anyone. A myriad of blood tests were given to him, and though the man seemed incapable of speech it was clear that he was suffering from a considerable amount of pain in the abdominal area. He was on a wide range of drugs for pain and digestion, and several x rays had been taken, though the results didn't reveal anything. He was also on antibiotics, as he had been found to have had a series of blisters on his arms and face. He seemed to have been stable by the end of the previous night, which is why he had been placed in the ICU with me. When I met him he was quietly resting despite the weather, and was much the same even after the briefing, when I had to go to his bedside and give him more medicine.