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New Year's Resolutions

Notes from an emergency room doctor: Each year, as New Year's Day creeps up, I'm always desperate to come up with some worthwhile New Year's resolutions. It's not that I can't think of things I need to improve about myself. Believe me, I could resolve to change plenty. But I hate to make resolutions that I almost know I'll fail to keep from day one. There's nothing worse than starting off the new year as a failure. That's why coming up with New Year's resolutions is so formidable a task.

On this New Year's Day, while I'm still pondering my failings and how to resolve them, I thought I'd take time out to help my readers with their resolutions for the coming year.

There's nothing like the spiritedness of end of the year to bring out human frailties. So, I reviewed emergency room medical charts from New Year's Eve and New Year's Day 1994 in order to discover how people let out the old and brought in the new back then. How better to help us conceive our new resolutions for 1995.

S.T. suffered "irritated eyes status post pepper spray." His 1994 resolution ought to have been to cope better with police authority.

R.K had "dental caries and odontalgia" - a New Year's Eve toothache. His resolution ought to be not to let things - like dental and medical care - wait until the last minute, when minor ailments become painful or major ones.

J.E. suffered a "subungual hematoma." His thumbnail was smashed in a car door. He resolved to more closely watch his words and his hands with his girlfriend.

T.D. had a "scalp laceration and blunt head trauma." He was handcuffed and arrested for drunk driving. I hope he resolved not to drink and drive and to thank god that he hadn't hurt anyone else while driving under the influence.

B.J. had an "open nasal fracture and a fifth metacarpal fracture." Hopefully, he resolved that sometimes it is smarter to walk away from the foolish macho bravado of a fight than to stick one's nose into the melee.

K.M. had "acute gastritis and reflux esophagitis." A good resolution is to learn that booze and foods you can't tolerate all year long and which you know cause you distress are not better tolerated during holidays or festive events. Ones weaknesses are not absolved at year's end. One's foibles remain one's foibles.

D.M.L. had an "acute anxiety reaction." She had hyperventilated and fainted. Her resolution was to remember that the morning after often looks brighter than the night before.

M.A. suffered "left 4,5,6 rib fractures, a left scapular fracture, and a pulmonary contusion." She resolved never again to drive with anyone who had been drinking.

S.A. "left without being seen." He ought to have resolved to be more patient, to recognize that emergency rooms treat the sickest patients first, and to realize that doctors and nurses are only human. They can be overstressed, overworked, and understaffed - especially on holidays.

E.R. staffs need to make resolutions too. Coping with those who are sick and in pain, injured and distraught, illogical and impatient, rude and reviling, they ought to resolve to be more compassionate, more patient, and always professional.

I wish you all a Happy New Year. And, if you do make New Year’s resolutions try to keep them until February.