I was wide awake and bored. There is nothing good on TV between 3-5am. Infomercials and bad movies were pretty much it. We were stationed in one of the so called “quiet zones” -areas that statistically had fewer calls. That didn’t always hold true, but tonight it was. I had finished my book on my last shift and forgot to swap it out for a new one. I was rotating through mindless games on my phone when the tones went out for our unit- for a cardiac arrest.
“DAMN. Just as I was getting settled.” My partner tonight was an EMT Basic, thankfully one who should really be a medic (as we all told her pretty much every shift). But my stomach still sunk because this meant technically I was in charge of this call. I hated being in charge. Adrenaline pumping, we jumped into the ambulance and flicked on the lights.
We pulled up to the nursing home and grabbed the stretcher, walking briskly up to the building and punching the entrance code. Once inside, the nurse at the main desk got up and walked us to the room, reciting as she went, “Mr. K—- is 92 years old, history of Alzheimers, emphysema, he’s had two strokes, and a double bypass. The nurse noticed he wasn’t breathing when she went on her rounds and called 911.” “DNR?” I asked, although I knew the answer. “No. He’s in here.” Her last statement was superfluous. Unless the fire department regularily hung out in patient’s rooms it was pretty obvious by the pile of equipment outside the door.
Inside a firefighter held a bagvalve mask over the waxen lips of our dead patient. “We got here maybe two seconds before y’all.” The other firefighter said, a seasoned veteren, he was already sliding the board beneath the patient’s back to start CPR. Things progressed quickly, the bag wheezed and sighed, filling the lifeless chest cavity and rushing out under the pitiless pounding of chest compressions. My partner attached the pads to our monitor and placed the leads on wrists and ankles while I snapped the blue rubber around an arm and attempted an IV. A few flushes to make sure it wouldn’t blow and then I attached a bag of fluids. Rhythm check revealed ventricular tachycardia, charge the monitor, clear, shock adminstered, resume CPR, epi… I grabbed the airway kit and set up for intubation. Gripping the gently curved tube in one hand I levered the jaw up as I had been taught and stared into the pale cavern that is the back of the throat. The opening to the trachea bobbed in and out of view with the pumping of CPR. I adjusted my position until the opening remained in my line of sight despite its bouncing and slid the tube in. Rhythm check. Another shock.
A few minutes later, there was a pulse.
If I were a swearing type, I’d’ve been swearing then. Part of me was proud that we’d all done our job well, most of me was saddened by the unneccessary interventions on a man plagued by infirmities who had probably died peacefully in his sleep. Now he’d be hooked up on life support until his family pulled the plug. Sometimes it was a bad thing when everything went right.
Transport was quick, the firefighters lifted him to our stretcher and we awkwardly clambered down the hall, checking for a pulse frequently and still bagging him through the intubation. Load into the ambulance, I requested a firefighter to ride in the back in case I needed to resume CPR, and then we were off to the hospital. Thank goodness for the fire departments.
I finally finished the chart and pushed it away with a sigh of relief. I had remained in the ambulance to work on it while my partner had gone back inside the station. I sat a few moments longer, enjoying the predawn quiet and trying not to think.
“Well hello, dear, I thought I’d pop in and say hi.” Brown eyes peeped into the ambulance through the window I’d left rolled down. I jumped.
“Who ARE you?” I demanded, once I was reasonably assured my heart wouldn’t exlode.
“Mmmm, that is a good question. Really you should be asking about my hubby, he’s more the type that you emergency folk tend to talk to.”
“Your husband that I’m supposedly inconveniencing some how.” I stated flatly.
She giggled. It was unnerving, giggles coming from a lady that looked old enough to be a great grandmother.
“You are giving him a devil of a time, but it has been an altogether nice change of pace for me.”
I rolled my eyes, decided I was either hallucinating or she was, and I went to roll up the window. “Well, have a nice night!”
She scowled, placing a firm bony hand on the edge of the window to keep it from rising.
“Of all the things…My husband goes out of his way to cause trouble for you and you not only don’t acknowledge his effort you can’t even be sufficiently bothered by it, but my presence annoys you enough to be rude? You are never rude.”
I was going to ignore her, but decided her last statement was just too weird. If she and her creepy husband had been stalking me the more I could find out the better.
“Just who is your husband?”
She smiled. “He goes by many names, but you can call him Mr. Murphy.”
*******I know it’s been a day since I posted. I have several unfinished posts. If I get desperate I’ll start publishing them before I finish, but I managed to somewhat wrap this one up. *******