Saturday, March 07, 2009

An odd evening

I lay awake for awhile last night. I've been having a little trouble falling asleep the last week. As I lay there, I remember a medical call I went on. 

Why am I remembering that? Possible because this site brought back some memories.

 Anyway, it wasn't a bad memory, it was when our crew revived  a two year old drowning victim, which reminded me of when another crew I was on revived a brew pub owner who had a heart attack. She threw a party at the pub for us several weeks later, and wrote a thank you letter that said "I've waited all my life to have three handsome firemen rip my top off, and when it happened I was dead!"

Why am I thinking about this?

Then I remembered bits of another call, when we pulled out of the station, as we crossed the gutter line there was an enormous "THUMP!" (I was the engineer) uh oh, something broke. We were going to a call for a possible child  drowning at the community center, so if the engine will go, we go. So there were two right turns enroute, and things seemed fine until I had to turn left. Left turn, not so good, and we're in sight of the wading pool. I'm barely able to wrestle the engine left, then a right turn and we're there. The crew was Capt Gene, Jerry and myself. Jerry jumps in the pool and tends to the little girl who had a seizure but was fine. What was it that broke? It took quite awhile to remember. (leaf spring shackle) Which engine was that? One of the old Fords?

Then I remembered Gene, Jerry and I had a "save" at the community center where there was a large birthday party for an old guy who collapsed and went into cardiac arrest. His mouth and airway were full of birthday cake. The ambu bag broke. But we got pulses and respirations back.

Am I having flashbacks?

I remember when, with this same crew, we responded to a two year old burn victim, who supposedly filled the bathroom sink with scalding hot water and tried to give herself a bath. I can still see the skin falling off her lower torso. Jerry grabbed her, jumped into the tub with cool water as the paramedics arrived, Gene and I called for a medivac helo and started setting up the LZ. The house was on a court, so we just blocked off the court, but it was garbage day and everybody's cans were out.

Why am I remembering all this? The author of "Tidings of Magpies" is a nurse, Geez, I remember another call, with a different crew. It was springtime, a beautiful day about noon when we got a call for a vehicle accident about a mile away. Sometimes you can tell from the dispatchers voice that it's bad. A person having drug induced paranoia, was driving about 80 mph on a (6 lane) city street and swerved into a car sitting at a stoplight, head on. As we pulled up, the officers waved us to the car that HAD BEEN at the stoplight. The other car was about 150' down the road. Fortunately there was a ladder truck nearby that responded and handled the "perps" car. He died while being extricated. Our driver was....a nurse..... She was responsive only to pain, of which there was probably plenty. Paul, our FF/medic, went in thru the passenger window to try and start a line on her. I popped the door with the Hurst Tool. She was wearing dark blue sweatpants, and  I noticed a quarter sized dark spot mid femur. I pointed it out to Paul who cut the pants open.

Anyone remember in Catch 22 where Yossarian cuts open the bloody flightsuit?  We're staring at a classic compound femur fracture.

I remember we were able to call the hospital and check on her for a few days, then the new privacy laws went into effect. A nurse whispered to me that she had been transferred. I never knew how she recovered

Why am I having all these memories? Let's see, just before I went to bed, our 22 year old cat pooped all over the floor and seemed to be losing control over her hind legs. I remember thinking, oh God, is it time? Do we have to take her to be put down?

No, "we" cleaned her up (I'm HELPING!) and she seemed "normal" We gave her some meds for an upset tummy. Today she walks normally unless she's been lying down for a long time.

To quote from a VERY old Adam Sandler monologue, "The mind is a terrible thing!"


  1. Soldiers aren't the only ones with "the thousand yard stare..."
    I've heard some stories from the paramedics and, less often, from the C-STARS we get with us at work. It never ceases to amaze me what the eyes can take in while the brain works around the grimness and gets what needs to be done, done.
    Hope you have a better night's rest tonight.

  2. And then you had to visit me and read my tribute to my dog. I'm sorry about the cat. I hope you get a little more time, but don't worry, you'll know when the time is right.

    I worked ICU for many years. Although I rarely think about those cases, some memories come back unbidden. Occasionally, after a particularly brutal day of trying to prevent the inevitable, I'd lie awake in bed going over every single thing I'd done for a patient. Those were sleepless nights.

    Now in hospice, I'm routinely taught about caregiver fatigue. I wish someone had taught me sooner.

    I love the story of the pub owner. You did good.

  3. Hope the flashbacks are leaving you alone now ... and hope your cat stays well a lot longer ..