Archives for September 4, 2010

Renewing My Soul

Pediatric calls. My nemesis.  I hadn’t worked one since I got back from my hiatus.  Sure I had seen kids in the prehospital setting, but none of them were sick.  Every time I walked out to the ambulance for a Peds call, my heart would start racing, my mouth would go dry, and I would feel as if the world was spinning just a bit slower than normal.  I was sitting at the station with a ride along, explaining to him how to use some of the basic pieces of equipment.  On the weekend, extra pairs of hands were few and far between for us, so I always gave riders a quick lesson on how to use the oxygen tanks, long boards, and other very basic equipment.  I was excited to have a rider who was very eager to learn, so I was showing him how to set up an IV bag and what supplies were needed.  One of the local cops stopped up, pilfering a piece of fried chicken along with a bit of collard greens and baked mac and cheese.

“Girl, you can throw down on some damn chicken…”  He munched hungrily.  I had fried some chicken for dinner and the collard greens had been cooking for almost eight hours.  The timer on the stove beeped, and I went over, taking the Sweet Potato Pie from the oven.  I turn around to find my partner, the cop, and the rider standing behind me, eagerly looking at the pie.

“Guys…give it ten minutes to cool then you can dive in.  There’s Apple Pie in the fridge that’s ready.”  I watched the ensuing scuffle at the refrigerator with a content smile.  Even though they were all older than me, I felt as if they were my charges.  I made sure there was always food in the fridge when I was on shift, and the local cops and firefighters knew the door was always open if something was needed. 

“Harrison Command from Dispatch.”

“Go ahead, Dispatch.” Came the reply from the cop.  He pulled out a pen, ready to write the address down.

“Medics are responding, 2231 North 4th street, that’s 2-2-3-1 North 4th Street for a 10 month old male, not breathing.”   The cop, who was already standing up, ran out the door.  We followed behind; it was common for the police to be dispatched before us for any medical call, because of the area, but sometimes the delay took up to five minutes depending on the dispatcher.  I reached the truck in a dead sprint, grabbing the radio.

“Medic 904 copies from PD channel.  Show me enroute.”

I barely got my foot in the door before the ambulance was moving.  My partner, someone I would and still do trust with my life, could handle an ambulance in ways I didn’t know was possible.  He controlled the truck like he was controlling a Thoroughbred horse.  The truck responded to his every touch.  Some days, I would watch him drive emergency with awe; it was a beautiful sight.  I looked back through the ‘birth canal’ and to my surprise, my rider had pulled out all but the pediatric tube kit. Before I could remind him where it was at, it was out and opened on the stretcher.

“You said you liked the Mac, right?”

I nodded quietly.  I watched him slip the MacIntosh blade on the handle and with a metalic click, the blade locked into place and the end lit up.

“And we’re out!”  The truck slowed to a stop and we all jumped out.  I heard a woman screaming.  It was that God-awful wail again.  I kept moving forward, not wanting to go into the house, yet I knew I had to.  The doorway seemed to be a mouth into a beast, and I was willingly walking into it.  I moved into the house, and I saw everyone huddled in the corner.  I watched as the officers’ hands encircled the chest of the child, his thumbs contracting over his chest.

“Come on, baby, come on!”  That was his mantra.  Every so many compressions, he’d push his mouth around the mouth and nose of the infant, and he’d give gentle breaths. 

“What happened?!” I asked loudly.  My partner went to the cop and began ventillations while he continued with compressions.

“Oh God! Oh God! He fell and hit his head off the table yesterday! I was holding him and he just squirmed and he fell! He hasn’t been acting right since! A few minutes ago, he just started shaking violently and then he stopped breathing!!” 

I went to the child, picking him up in my arms.  I listened to his chest and I heard nothing.  On the back of his head was a large, swollen area.  I delivered two breaths and started out to the ambulance.  I held the child to me as we hopped in back, trying to will him to life.  I felt like I was taking up the mantle, I was truly in a fight with the Angel Of Death.  My patch was my sheild, my arsenal of medical equipment was my weapon. 

“Put him on the monitor, put in an oral airway and keep bagging!”  Two, small pediatric defib pads were slapped on the childs’ chest.  I unfurled my battle plan; my Broslow tape.  I laid it gently next to the child, looking at the color.  Purple was his color, and that was going to be my war color for the battle.  I pulled out my best weapon; my IO drill.  I loaded my round, reving the drill.  I looked at the monitor; it was completely flat.  Compressions had never stopped, neither had the bagging.  I lined up my sights, prepared my area and went for it.  It was the first time I had used the drill on a kid, and I was shocked how smooth it went in.  I set up the line, and I put in my first round; Epi.

You’re not gonna die, Kid, even if I have to snatch you back from Death myself…

It flew in, compressions never stopped. “Let me get the tube, then take me downtown.”  I moved to the airway seat and locked and loaded my next weapon, my tube.  With the blade in my left hand, I gently guided it past his lips, slipping along the curve of his tongue.  Behind me, his mother was screaming his name.

“Bradley! Bradley! Bradley!”

I saw the vocal cords, and I gently moved to put the tube in, when I noticed a soft, warm rush of air move across my nose. 

“Stop compressions…”  I turned my cheek, placing it against his nose and mouth.  I felt it again. 

“I…I think he’s breathing!” I turned and looked at the monitor.  It was still the agonizingly flat.  I turned away to command for compressions to be started when I heard it; a beep.  I looked back and the prettiest Sinus Tach floated across the screen.  I put my stethoscope to his chest and I listened; his heart was beating like clockwork.  His breathing was slow, so I put the rider back to work on the BVM.  I thanked my lucky stars I was saddled with the one rider who was actually CPR certified, and was going through the First Responder class.  My partner jumped up front and I heard him call enroute to the hospital.  I looked at my watch; what had seemed like hours was only seven scant minutes. 

Bouncing along to the hospital, we worked in relative silence.  The boy was still on the stretcher.  I looked over his form.  I saved him. 

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me…

I was a wretch.  Until this point, I was a shell of who I was.  This was my Amazing Grace; I proved I could do it again, I proved I could save a life.   I looked up, it had been two minutes since we were enroute.  I went ahead and intubated him; the tube slipped in with no issue.  It was almost too easy. 

I once was lost….

“I…I lost the pulse!”  I reached over, looking at the monitor.  He had gone flat line again.  I rubbed his chest, trying to stimulate him.  “Please, baby, please don’t do this to me…”  I encircled his chest with my hands, but before I could get a compression in, his heart started again.  We worked on him, throwing the drug box at him.  I wasn’t letting him go.  My spirit was back.

But now I’m found…

The truck slowed to a stop.  Dave, my partner, pulled open the back doors.  We pulled the stretcher out, but I hopped ontop of it to be at the ready if his heart stopped again.  I rode the stretcher all the way to the Trauma Bay where I was helped off the bed.  I tried to get back in the fray, but I was led away.  I snuck back in to see him, claiming I needed his birthday.  As I took his hand in mine, I held it gently, wishing nothing but good thoughts his way.  I began to walk away, but something made me turn back.  As I did, I saw his little hand ball up into a fist; the first time he moved since we had reached him.

Was blind, but now I see.

                                                                                                          **********************

It was almost two years since I had taken Bradley.  I had left that job, went to another one, and had come back.  Every so often, we’d drive past his house where we picked him up, but I never saw anyone from that day.  I searched for an obituary, but I didn’t find one, nor could I look that far back.  I almost didn’t want to know.  Dropping off a patient one day, I felt a tap on my shoulder.  I turned around slowly and saw a woman from my past; Bradleys’ mother.

“I…never got to thank you, for what you did…”

I dug my toe in the dirt, sighing softly.  “It’s my job, Ma’am…”  She smiled at me as a little boy tottered up slowly.  She picked him up and smiled.

“Bradley, I’d like you to meet the woman who saved your life.”

He made it, he was alive, and I was finally whole.

Be safe, my friends,

~M. Trommashere~

Twitter…

I gots me a Twitter account! Follow me at @MedicTrommasher…it should be entertaining!

Have Fun and Be Safe!

~Medic Trommashere~