I was orienting in triage yesterday, and experience which pretty much scared me to the point I had to evacuate my bowels q4h.
Don't you hate pooping at work?
ANTYwhey, my preceptor for the day was amazing. During a rare moment of downtime she took me outside for some fresh air to enjoy the springtime-ish breeze and show me the decon showers. We also ventured into a hidden room with all the disaster stock. I desperately wanted a selfie with a black disaster triage tag, but alas, none were to be found during our brief moment in the scary room. Juice-boxes of water, emergency batteries, tackle-boxes full of angiocaths and emergency meds, and an army of 1950's style respirators made it all seem real.
I really do work in an ED. Praise the Lord and pass the potatoes.
After several hours, during which I swear I lost a few pounds, I was nervously triaging patients under her watchful eye. In truth, our population is full of The Diabesity, The Pressure, and various Pains and Hurtin's that “I been havin' for two weeks now, doc.”
The patients call me doc because I'm a man and obviously must be a doctor. I always gently correct them. Always.
The beauty of being in the box, which is what I call triage, is that once the patient exits the box, you're done. Translation? Ain't really nothin' to give nobody at shift change as far as report goes. In two minutes you're done. Lit-tra-lee.
As I was strolling out of the box heading to float for my final four in the ED core (I was 11a-11p) in wheels EMS doing chest compressions.
Side note: In my three and a half years working in hospitals I've seen two kinds of patients receiving chest compressions. Those who are struggling to hold on and those that are dead. I wish I had words to describe exactly how you can tell, but I think it's a lower-brain, reptilian, millennium-old ability we have as living beings to detect other living beings. I can feel when someone is dead and we're pounding on a chest vs. compressions on a living human, even if I'm not touching the patient. That's a bit meta, but if you experience it, you know what I mean. End side note.
EMS was pounding on the chest of a dead person.
Zoom-zoom, I'm in the core, helping to cut clothes, attach pads, place leads, the typical oh-shit-get-the-good-toys dance, when I see the patients' eyes. Suspicion confirmed, he be dead. D e a d. Internally I said a quick prayer. Two people got access, we started the ACLS tango, and as the tubes went into the proper holes, we raised the dead.
Let me repeat. We raised the dead. Zombie. Spirit gone, flesh animated. A bag of magical juice, flowing through a hollow metal tube directly into a vein, succinctly irritated a group of heart cells just enough to mechanically convulse fast enough to push blood around a dead body. A second tube, larger, firmly wedged in the airway, was bellowing air into the lungs at the whim of a mechanical box on wheels; a wizards' apprentice know as The Vent.
Raised the dead faster than them fabulous bitches on AHS:Coven.
The eeriest thing after any congregation finishes invoking the spirits of all medical knowledge at the altar of trauma is how quickly the ceremony ends. The participants remove their gloves and depart, some with relics taken from the body in tubes, destined for analyzers and incubation closets.
The floor is strewn with the detritus of the gathering, often bloody.
At the center of the tornado's path is a body with eyes glazed, tubes running to and fro, and a chest that rises and falls with a rhythmic precision that any metronome would envy.
I wasn't primary on the case but given all how full the core was, I assumed care with another nurse. Spent the balance of my shift adjusting drips, monitoring pressures, organizing lines, and playing ICU nurse.
About an hour after the big show, with a gentle swipe of my gloved hand, I closed the unfocused eyes of the living dead. Not because it was good for the patient, but because I felt guilty as my adrenalin high wore off.
Mary Shelly would be proud of our selfishness.