Category Archives: emergency room

I have bruises on my hands …

fairly large ones, as well as numb fingers, that are the result of 500+ chest compressions performed on the presumed dead, but revivable (that really is a word) mannequin at my CPR recert class on Friday.

Usually, it is little more than a formality, but the instructors were being monitored by the powers that be, so there were no shortcuts.  I’m going to have bruises for weeks because I, being nearly six feet tall and pretty strong, can produce a mean, straight, rigid armed, muscles flexed, chest compression.

I was transported back to another time and reminded of my days as a Paramedic when CPR was a fairly regular occurrence  …

Unfortunately, I let both my TN and VA certifications expire after I got married because my husband frowned upon me spending 24-hours at a time with men who weren’t him – never mind that I was trustworthy, a straight arrow to the core, it bothered him … and out of respect for his feelings, I left the position.  Now, years later, after he has passed away, I don’t have the desire or drive to go through the classes again to obtain that status and so …  there you go.

But … broken ribs, bruised sternums, lights, sirens and driving 80 mph on the back roads …  starting large bore IV’s into unwilling veins, using the defibrillator (before the advent of the AED)   in the back of a rig as it swayed and bumped along the rutted roads,  riding to the ER, straddling the patient on the gurney, counting out loud with the chest compressions as doctors and nurses waited outside the door was a rush that cannot be duplicated.

It was like an episode of ER, back when it was a decent show and actually still on air.  The early George Clooney days.  Good times emerging from the worst possible scenarios…

and yet, I digress …

that scene was at least a monthly and sometimes, depending on the time of year, a weekly event.  There are times when I miss it  … As much as the job, I miss the  extremely cool pants  …

I have held the neck of an injured person, whispering words of encouragement as the Jaws-Of-Life cut the top off a car as easily as opening a can of tuna,  inserted a chest tube to relieve the pressure of a pneumothorax, performed a cricothyroidotomy in order to make a patent airway, intubated with the McIntosh blade, which was my laryngoscope of choice  because it was curved and, in my opinion, more conducive to sliding between the vocal cords than the straight Miller blade.  The vocal chords, when visualized in reality, are really quite beautiful and an anatomical enigma.  (an adrenaline junkie?  maybe so … ok, yeah, probably) .

But given all of those things, the lifesaving techniques that I am able to employ, I still have to recertify in a CPR refresher course every two years.

In May, I performed CPR on a man who dropped like a stone while pumping Gas (and lived to tell about it because of early intervention and initiation of EMS … I shouted call 9-1-1 to a baffled lady who did it out of pure shock)  but that, as far as the American Heart Association is concerned, doesn’t count for anything.

Go figure.

And in two  years, I will get to do it again.

Good grief.

reallly?  REALLY?

reallly? REALLY?

Those unexpected moments …

always seem to happen at the least convenient time.  I was just about to clock out at work today and meet an old friend for dinner.  We hadn’t seen each other in over a year and were going to celebrate our birthdays; mine near the end of November and hers three weeks later.

Just as I was gathering my things, I got a text from my mom telling me that my sister and cousin had been in a wreck and were at the hospital.  Needless to say, all thoughts of meeting up with old friends flew out the window.  Two distinct images came into my mind: first, her Mercedes, crumpled and broken; second, my nieces in the back seat.  As it turned out, she wasn’t driving the car but the Suburban and thankfully, prayerfully in gratitude, the girls weren’t with her.

After reaching my mom on the phone, I was able to discern that there were scans and xrays being performed and I made haste to get to the hospital.  It never changes.  That feeling of heading toward the hospital uncertain of what you’ll find when you get there.  You have details, but they are sketchy and leave way too much room for fodder.  Then there is the clerk at the desk who has to ask five times for the name of the person you are looking for so he can find them in the computer.  At long last the magic doors to the bowels of the ER are opened and I am allowed entrance.

Why should this time be any different than any other time I had been there?  The moment I walked through the doors, I was lost.  There were so many halls and numbered rooms, glass from floor to ceiling with only a curtain to stretch across to protect the inside from prying eyes.  It always makes me feel odd to walk those halls with, obviously, no clue where I am going and have people who know, obviously, that I have no clue where I’m going and yet just pass me by.

After wandering around for a bit, I found my sister in a room with the date of 1/3/2012 on the dry erase board on the wall.   She was lying flat of her back with a cervical collar snugly in place, the wires going in every direction and quite unhappy with the whole situation.  She wasn’t on a backboard and the way she kept moving about, I figured she was ok, otherwise, she would have been somewhat restrained.

More than an hour passed and she asked to go to the bathroom.  She was told she was not allowed to get up but that she could use the bedpan.  She looked at the nurse as though she had suddenly blurted out a mouthful of profanity.  No thank you was the response to the bedpan.  And time passed.  The Xrays that were supposed to have been back nearly an hour before were not.  My sister’s allowance to get out of bed hinged on the results of those Xrays.  If she could get out of bed, she could get to the bathroom.  And time passed.  Finally, my prissy sister decided that she really had no choice but to ask for a bedpan.  It seemed to be an uneventful and successful undertaking until a few moments later, when she asked me “is this bed wet?”.   I burst out laughing.  I simply could not help myself.  I’m not proud of it, but simply had no control over it.  Later, we all laughed about it because not only does my sister know she’s prissy, she’s proud of it.  I’m just glad everyone is, although sore and creaky, unharmed.  Thank God.


Psalms 103:1 ~ Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.

What on Earth …

happened to your face?  I can see the question in their eyes even as they cast quick and surreptitious glances in my direction.  But they never actually ask it.  They simply stare, amazed at the disfigurement and damage on someone’s face.  The face.  The first thing, unless you’re a pervert, that one notices.  It is either the eyes, the mouth, the shape of the chin.  It is human nature to see and analyze a face in mere moments.  There is an immediate response that says good, bad, friendly, sweet, ugly, beautiful, distrustful, untrustworthy, hot, homely, dirty, weird, sneaky, seeking, loving, sad, angry, hurt, happy, joyful and a myriad of others.  There is no point in denying that I have done the same; wanted to know what had happened to cause something, some disfigurement, but was too afraid to ask.  Afraid of all manner of things; confrontation, ignominy, silence, isolation.  But no more will I be afraid to ask because in this place of disfigurement-induced  insecurity I speak of, I have recently visited.

Three days ago, I was walking from my house to my parents’ house (they weren’t there, but my sister and brother were.  My brother is my sister’s husband.  I don’t have a blood brother, but if I did, he would be just like Chris.  But I digress).  I didn’t realize as I was “gawking along” ( as Granny Minton would say), that my sister’s Bassett pups were around.  I would most definitely have paid more attention.  What happened is this; I tripped over one of the pups and,  as it befell so fast and not having adequate time to throw arms out to brace my fall, fell, face first onto the gravel driveway. (the pup, by the way, was unharmed)

I was certain, as I immediately began to feel the blood pour (and knew that if I saw it, I would faint dead away), that my nose was broken and likely some teeth were missing.  I went into the house and freaked my sister and brother out.  I was a mess and I was very afraid that I was going to be sick just thinking about it.  Funnily enough, after I rinsed with water, the nurse in me took over.  I knew when I looked at the gash between my eyes that it needed stitches, but I, being as nurses are (stubborn and self-sufficient to a fault), thought I could just throw some Steri-Strips on there and be good.  Luckily for me, I couldn’t find my stash and my sister, bless her soul, drove me to the ER.  Five stitches and close to a third of the skin on my face in a clean line from mid-forehead to chin later, I am wondering what the heck happened and know, without doubt, that God protected me from more serious injury. I know with absolute certainty that it could have been much, much worse.

A few people did ask and I was relieved to know that there were people who look at my face and wonder what happened; then ask.  It usually brought a bit of sympathy with a dash of humor.  I don’t hold it against the pup.  She was just doing what she does.  But the next time I want to know what happened to somebody, I’m going to ask them.  The worst they can do is tell me to mind my own.  I don’t want to be only a bystander.  I want to be a part of the humor, the pain, the embarrassment, the insecurity and in the midst of all that, I hope to be, on some small scale, an encouragement.