Empathy….

Hello all, it’s been quite a while since my last post.  I never intended this blog to become anything huge, but I have a feeling that it will be a bit of a stress reliever for me today.  Today marks one week since I was intubated and sedated, rushed by my own ambulance crew, and spent a few days in ICU. 

The doctors have no idea what happened, what made me sick, or honestly really how to treat it (I get the feeling anyway).  The night before started out with a sore throat.  I was on call, and didn’t feel bad enough when I went to sleep to “call in” sick.  I awoke the next morning to my fiance coming in, and myself drooling and having obvious breathing issues.  We went to the local ER, where the ER doc came in to my room, looked at me, and said one word.  “Epiglottitis.”  Awesome.  As a paramedic, I remember that chapter in my book that covered this.  And how it said that you shouldn’t touch these people, make them comfortable, and that they end up being intubated.  Then he said the next magic phrase.  “Get anesthesia down here NOW.”  Crap.  It is at this point where things get fuzzy, because I had about 4 nurses doing different things.  Next thing I know I’m being wheeled into the trauma room, and my anesthesiologist (also a paramedic, rock on) was looking at me and telling me what was going on.  Then helloooooo Versed.

A tip here for you fellow medics that haven’t ever experienced this drug.  I felt bad.  It was this horrific ringing of the ears-mind numbing wash out.  But the anesthesiologist talked to me during this part.  His voice was the only thing that I remember, because he was telling me how I would feel, and what was happening.  Now, never underestimate the power of speaking to those patients that are seemingly unconcious, whether or not chemically induced.  My fellow crew members and great friends talked to me during the ride over too.  Now I obviously don’t recall any of it, but my low and steady heart rate, and calm blood pressure spoke for itself.

The next phase was round two of the ER, this time in a bigger city.  When I arrived, I apparently became VERY agitated.  Almost 30mg of Versed later, among other things, and I was vented upstairs in ICU.  This is where I become a bit agitated.  Here I am, a 26 year old paramedic, who was initially thought to be a drug addict due to my age and the fact that I was intubated.  After my family cleared THAT one up, my ICU care started.  I managed to have an IV drip of Fentanyl infiltrate, and nursing staff failed to come take care of it until over an hour after my family said something about it.  My fiance is also an EMT-Intermediate, and has been for a few years now, so he has some medical background.  And he was appalled.  It took my mother crying.  CRYING over how blue and swollen my fingers were becoming.  My engagement ring was still on, and sure as hell wasn’t coming off anytime soon now.  My family also got to experience watching my Propofol infusion run empty, and it taking yet an incredible amount of time for anyone to come take care of it.  After 3 days in ICU, I was extubated and moved to one of the floors.  Two more days, and I busted out of dodge.  Puffy, sore, incredibly tired and happy to have a cupcake after not having squat for a few days, I was glad to be out.

Moral of the story for me?  We have an incredibly invasive job.  We start IVs, give drugs, tube people, splint bones, etc.  The next patient you have; take a second and stop.  Ask yourself what you have to do for your patient, and what the best way to do it is.  Because I tell you from experience, its the extra pillow, the calm voice, and the extra warm blanket that makes the difference.  Always be vigilant to your procedures.  Check and double check, and talk.  Speak for those that can’t speak for themselves.  Be the ultimate patient advocate.

 

Warmly,

Heather

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