The Case of 53

I’ve been spending a lot of time at the VA (Veteran’s Affairs) Hospital with a family member lately.  He went in on Friday and today we are waiting for him to go in to have open heart surgery.


Hospitals are funny places, especially VA Hospitals.  You never really know exactly what you are going to find.


Let’s start with the angry leprechaun.


When we got here on Friday an elderly gentleman was brought into the ER, kicking and screaming.  He caused such a ruckus that we were all prompted to turn and look, and what a treat that was!  He was a red headed man with a long red beard.  He had those deeply engraved frown lines dotted across his face and the big red bushy eyebrows.  To top it off, he was dressed in green and carried a cane; a cane which he later used as an assault weapon against the clerk behind the admitting desk.  He was far from the friendly, pot of gold chasing, lucky charms leprechaun, and I thought it best not to ask him for “Hearts, Stars, Rainbows, Clovers and Balloons.”

It’s scary how much this looks just like the hospital leprechaun
Image Credit:


Then there was the case of “53”.  He was dressed exactly as you would expect a war vet to be dressed.  He wore the POW/MIA ball cap, matching shirt and pants, and shuffled when he walked.  I have no clue why he was visiting the hospital but he was obviously quite annoyed with his predicament.  The answer to every question that the nurses asked was “53”.  It started off calmly however the more questions she asked, the more irritated he became that she couldn’t get it through her head that the answer was 53.  He began screaming and cussing and calling her every name in the book.


There was another gentleman who confirmed one of the first concerns I had when walking into the ER.


I don’t want this to come across the wrong way so understand that I am stating pure fact when I say, a huge percentage of the staff at this hospital belongs to the Asian race. Once again, there is nothing wrong with that but my concern is:


Many of the veterans here are Vietnam vets and since I have had the pleasure of knowing many of the veterans from this war era I know that they don’t harbor the greatest feelings towards Asians.  To them, it doesn’t matter if you are from China, Japan, or the Philippines, as far as they are concerned you are Vietnamese and all of their horrible war memories suddenly come back to life and they become quite enraged.


Such was the case with the gentleman yesterday.  A nurse went brought a wheel chair to him and asked him to get in so he could take him to the back.  At this moment the man snapped to life and started waving his cane in the air (they really should confiscate those things at the door) screaming “It’s the Viet Cong, they’re trying to kill me!” then turning to the nurse “You won’t take me alive, Gook!”  He stood up, kicking and screaming and proceeded to spit in the nurse’s face.


As funny as these incidences sound, it really is sad that our Veterans (or any of our elderly as far as that goes) get in the situations that they do.  I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the elderly and especially those who served our country, and at a time that it wasn’t quite so cool to be in the military.


I’m sure before this is all over I will have more exciting stories to share!


5 thoughts on “The Case of 53

  1. The things you can see while people-watching…

    But that man’s outburst is so sad, both for him and the nurse who had to take it. I’m sure that quieted the room.

    1. It really is sad. I in no way condone racism but at the same time I can’t completely judge him, we have no idea the things that he and his peers saw over there. I like to think that it’s not really them being racist but just bad war memories coming to life.

    1. The nurse that my family member had yesterday was Iranian. I can’t imagine that would be much better!

      I don’t think I could work for the VA if I was of asian (or any foreign) descent. It’s not their fault, they have to go where the work is but still, just seems like a horrible idea all the way around.

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