Thumbs up!

February 4th, 2012 No comments

3 AM.

Guy walks through the front door.

“Hi there, sir, how can I help you this morning?”

“I cut my thumb off.”

I’ve heard similar stories, usually exaggerated.  “Can I see it?”

He removes a bloody paper towel and, sure enough, there’s a ragged stump where the knuckle of his thumb ought to be.  His friend holds up a cup, holding what I can only assume to be the other portion of this guy’s digit.

“Okay, sir, give us just a minute and I’ll get you into a room.”

I love my job.

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Thoughts on foxholes…

February 4th, 2012 No comments

The Emergency Department I work in has a huge staffing shortage.

We’ve had this problem for awhile, we knew it was coming and no one did anything about it, or at least didn’t do anything fast enough to avert the massive holes on the nursing and EMT schedules. Because of said scheduling holes, I have been working a lot. When I say a lot, I mean I’ve been averaging five, sometimes six or seven, twelve hour shifts in a week. That’s a whole lot of time I spend with my coworkers. The night crew is a good bunch, but because of the staff shortage, we’ve been the most screwed since a majority of people prefer to work during the day (Who the hell would work during sleeping hours?). So time and time again I find myself working with the same EMTs, short-handed and busy as hell because summertime is when the entire world is out doing things that will get them hurt.

A few weeks back, one of the EMTs that works even more than I do said to me,”Whenever the shit hits the fan, it seems like you’re the one here with me. You don’t piss off the guy sharing your foxhole. He’s the one you give your last cigarette to, because he’s the one watching your back.”

This is the same EMT that I had help me pull a dead lady out of a car in front of her family, which was a normal task until we damn near dropped the woman. There was a moment when we were both hanging on to her, her body is about halfway between the car seat and the stretcher and we both felt her slipping. Her three family members are wandering around us while we do this, intermittently crying (understandably). We look at each other as we felt her slip, and there was a definite “Are we fucked?” look that passed between us. Fortunately for both of us we managed to get the woman onto the stretcher, get her and her family into a room to wait for the medical examiner.

This consistent night bunch has started using possessive pronouns when referring to each other, “My people”, “My nurses”, and referring to nights where we are without even one of these people as “Working alone”. This high-stress work seems to bond people together quickly, and deeply. I like it.

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New Experience

January 23rd, 2012 No comments

Its about midnight and I’m sitting near the front desk, talking with the EMT working triage. A door slams, and a security officer asks”Where did he go?” and the takes off running towards the main part of the hospital. Since this officer didn’t have any backup with him, I ran along to make sure things were okay. As we approach the hospital lobby Starbucks, I catch a glimpse of a naked butt just turning the corner towards the main hospital entrance. “That way!” I yell to the officer, and take off after the guy. I know who we’re pursuing. He was a psychiatric patient. This patient has run from his room, in only an untied hospital gown, and is making a dash for freedom. He barrels out the main entrance, I’m close behind him, and the officer is well behind me. I run, puffing and swearing past a few groups of people leaving the hospital, as I follow him towards the main parking garage. I slow down at this point, thinking that there aren’t a lot of places he can get to from the garage and soon the rest of our security force will be here soon to help escort this guy back to his room. He sees me following him, ditches his hospital gown and heads for the far wall of the garage. The far wall that is a full five stories from the ground below. Naked. I’m chasing a naked man across a parking structure towards a five story drop. (What’s tackling etiquette on a naked guy?) He gets to the far wall and starts to climb over. “NO!! No, dude, you don’t want to do that! No!”  I don’t know how bad it would be if he fell or jumped off that wall, but my guess is fatal if he’s lucky.  I speed up hoping I can get to him before he splats in the back parking lot of the nearby Children’s Hospital. He looks down, thinks better of it, and pushes off the interior wall towards the parking terrace. He falls, I get to him, and wait for the people with handcuffs. Running someone down makes you feel like a hero. Running down a naked man makes you feel somewhat less heroic…

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Code

August 5th, 2011 1 comment

I watched what can only be described as a textbook code tonight.

The patient was talking one minute and the next was unresponsive. Her nurse witnessed the whole thing, saw and recognized the rhythm on the monitor and called for help. What can only be described as a stampede of staff immediately went into that room, started CPR, attached the patient to a defibrillator (The “Clear!!!” device of television and movie fame) and started giving medications.

Less than three minutes, 2 doses of magnesium and 120 Joules of sweet electricity later, our patient was talking again. Not incomprehensible sounds, but answering questions in complete sentences. This person went from legally dead – no pulse, no breathing- to talking in almost no time flat because of our interventions.

Hell yeah, modern medicine. Hell. Yeah.

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Time of death: 12:44 AM.

March 13th, 2011 1 comment

Watched a woman die tonight.

Not the first time I’ve seen a stranger “expire” ( the polite word that’s used instead of “croak”), and I will guarantee that this will not be the last – unfortunately, a fairly common event in my line of work.

EMTs are supposedly these callous, world-weary people, seen it all twice. I did not get that from any of my coworkers tonight. There were some very somber faces around that room, mine included. I was stricken-looking enough for one of the other EMTs to comment on it, ask if I was okay. The three EMTs who were involved with this patient discussed the matter over chocolate milk and cigarettes in the ambulance bay. We joked a little, got a little serious, separated along predictable ideological lines. The religious guy mentioned how he was somewhat more comfortable with it because of his faith. The agnostics both shrugged and wondered.

I didn’t mention this to them, but it does bother me, seeing a stranger die. Not a lot, but definitely enough to warrant exploration. Logically I know that it’s as natural a part of life as birth, but there’s still something…mystical about it. I suppose the difference comes in the timing – birth is a culmination of nine months worth of incubation, while death can easily come seemingly out of nowhere. It could just as easily be said that this death was the culmination of 77 years of incubation.

I guess I should take some comfort in the fact that I’ve been doing this for a while now, and it still gets to me. Still have a heart in there somewhere.

I passed the bereavement room on my way out of the locker room, headed home after my shift,  two hours after our docs called the code.  I saw and heard the tears. I wanted to go in and say hello, tell them a little about how it happened, how I’ve lost people close to me as well, how she’d lived a long and probably very happy life, how everything would be okay. I’ve been in that room, on their end of it. When I was there I was so numb the words wouldn’t have meant anything, didn’t mean anything when people said them to me. Maybe that’s why I kept walking out to my truck, didn’t even break stride. Maybe that heart is buried a little deeper than I’d like it to be these days. Maybe I didn’t look official enough in my leather jacket and jeans. Maybe I just wanted to go home after another long shift.

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Fresh Start

February 10th, 2011 2 comments

I thought I’d give this blogging thing an honest shot, especially now that I essentially work in a story factory…

So its almost midnight, and I’m helping a four hundred pound woman stand up.

Its almost midnight and I’m holding the dress of a four hundred pound woman up above her shoulder.

Its almost midnight and I’m holding a four hundred pound woman’s dress up so that her nurse can remove her diaper.

Its almost midnight, and as soon as I get done helping the four hundred pound woman with the diaper and the extremely pungent urine, I can go home.  The wonderful world of modern medicine…

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DOT COM, B!TCH!!!

April 2nd, 2009 No comments

Check it out, suckas!!!

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Blogo-what?!

February 5th, 2009 3 comments

So I’m not real sure what a blog is supposed to consist of. Any ideas?

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ZackRocks is a’Rockin!

February 4th, 2009 No comments

Update to ZackRocks.org: there is NO update to ZackRocks.org!

It’s been two whole weeks and ZackRocks has been so busy rocking your face off that he hasn’t had time to update his blog.   First he rocked himself into a rockin new Bronco, then he rocked his Bronco so hard that the neighbor’s tree got scared and keeled over!  Talk about rocking!

Stay tuned for more updates on how ZackRocks rocks, and how you can be more like ZackRocks and rock too!

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Happy Birthday Zackeee!!!

January 20th, 2009 4 comments

Happy Birthday, muffincakes!  I’m littering your blog with the first post in the guise as you.  Just testing everything to make sure it’ll work out but since I’m here…

Seriously, you’re 24 now.  That means that I’ve known you for almost HALF OF YOUR LIFE!  How freaking scary is that!  I know that you and everyone has heard the story of how we met a billion times so I’m not going to re-iterate that here, but I do want you to know that I’m just as impressed with you today as I was 10.5 years ago.

You are the man.

So here’s to you, buddy.  For everything you were, everything you’ve become, and everything the future has to hold.  CHEERS!

With love,

WuddaWaste

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