It’s that time of year again, when we proclaim peace and goodwill to all, light up our homes with crazy Christmas lights, plaster the walls with Christmas cards, drink mulled wine and eat enough turkey, mince pies and Christmas pudding with brandy cream to elevate our cholesterol levels to well above the accepted thresholds for starting statin treatment.
I hope you’ve all been having a great time this Christmas and haven’t had to work too hard in Emergency Departments, which have no doubt been taking the strain from the revellers, some of whom just don’t seem to know when it’s time to stop. Of course, behind all the alcohol and fine food, Christmas is (for Christians, at least) about celebrating the birth of a baby some 2,000 years ago.
Here’s a quick summary of the background to this…
Over 2,000 years ago Jesus was born unexpectedly, after an immaculate conception, while Mary & Joseph were visiting Bethlehem to take part in a regional census. He was wrapped in swaddling clothes & placed in a manger because there were no guest rooms available. He was visited by some shepherds and three Magi, who had travelled from the East having seen signs that they interpreted as signifying the birth of a king. After the birth, the angel Gabriel warned Joseph in a dream that King Herod had heard of the birth of a ‘new king’, was wary of the threat to his power and wanted to kill him. The Angel Gabriel warned Joseph about this in a dream and the family fled to Egypt.
Things were pretty different back then. Sometimes I wonder what might have happened if that baby had been born in the same circumstances today, in our culture. Might it have been something like this?…
- Mary, who’s probably 14 or 15, becomes pregnant and says that she’s a virgin who’s become pregnant by divine intervention. She’s reviewed by the school nurse, her GP and referred to social services, following which a case conference takes place. There are concerns about Mary’s mental health and a psych review is arranged. Mary tells the psychiatrists about the Holy Spirit’s intervention and is sectioned on the assumption that this must be some form of psychosis. Unfortunately there are no local beds available and Mary is transferred out from Nazareth Royal Infirmary to Bethlehem General Hospital.
- After the rickety transfer in the back of an ambulance, Mary starts to experience intermittent abdo pain and is taken to the ED. Triage yellow: Significant distress. EWS 1.
- Jesus is born in the ED, wrapped in a bed sheet (as there are no blankets) and placed on a Resus trolley.
- Jesus is visited by a number of people who have been following the tweets from a mysterious @angelgabriel, which told them that the Messiah had been born in Bethlehem ED.
- Three computer nerds have been hacking into top secret government websites and discovered some classified discussions about the expected arrival of a Messiah and the potential implications for international security given the growing cult following, which was largely focused around the heavy metal star John The Baptist. They managed to track the family down to Bethlehem General and caught late flights before posting the information on Wikileaks.
- The psychiatrists are still concerned, this time about grandiose claims that Jesus is the Messiah. The last thing they want is a medicolegal case for a missed puerperal psychosis, so they err on the side of caution and want Mary (and the computer nerds) sectioned and Jesus taken into care. Fortunately, in the 12 hours spent waiting for a full mental health team to arrive in the ED, Joseph gets a direct message from @angelgabriel warning them to get out of there quick. Mary self-discharges/absconds and flees the country with Joseph.
Of course, this begs a question. In 2012, is the equivalent of the ‘manger’ a ‘Resus trolley’? If Jesus was born today, would an emergency physician have delivered him? While we ponder that thought, let’s check out and get ourselves a nice glass of hot mulled wine. Oh, and a mince pie – go on then, as it’s Christmas…
Merry Christmas from St. Emlyn’s!