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Friday, March 29, 2013

Here Comes Santa Clause

The night started off great.  We only had about eight or nine patients on the board.  Everything had been done.  We had only to wait on some results before decided whether to admit or discharge.  Nobody was in pain.  Nobody was short of breath.  Nobody was puking.  

Then, one of the registrars did it.  She said the dreaded Q-word.  I don't even want to say what the Q-word is on this blog for fear the ER gods will take their revenge tonight at work.  I don't know what the hell the registrar was thinking.  She's not new.  I know she knows better!

Within an hour, we were full with three ambulances on their way in with two chest pains and one shortness of breath.  No discharges were in our near future.  We had New Doc, who moves painfully slow and over-does work ups.  Even when somebody is admitted with orders and report called, New Doc usually still hasn't finished her T-sheet yet, so we have to wait to send them up.  Grrrrrr.  Time to move people into the halls.

As this was happening, the unit clerk came around a corner looking pale.  "I need help!  This guy outside is huge and looks really sick!"  I grabbed the only empty stretcher and another nurse grabbed an ambu-bag.  We headed outside to find the tech and another nurse already trying with futility to lift this man out of the back seat of the van and into a wheelchair.  Once the other two of us showed up, we were able to get him onto the stretcher.  

This guy was huge!  He was taller than the stretcher had room for and was very stout and very wide.  
Yep, that's him.  Only he was taller
I'd estimate weight around 350 pounds.  Once we got him on the stretcher and started checking signs of life (ABCs), we found he was breathing and had a pulse, but was rather gurgly.  He'd have to wait for suction, though, until he got outside.  Anyway, I noticed his face.  It was Santa Clause.  Same beard, same jolly, red face.  It looked just who I imagined he looked like as a kid.  

He could respond to commands, but couldn't really talk at us well.  I checked bilateral hand grip, foot strength, etc while we were wheeling him back to a room.  Yep, left sided weakness.  Droopy face.  Shit.  Santa was having a stroke.  

We flew into the room, got in three IVs at once, got an EKG, doc came in and evaluated, and he went to CT.  Shortly, we had the scan in our hands, and he was definitely having an ischemic stroke.  New Doc did an awesome job.  The nurses did an awesome job.  The tech did an awesome job.  The unit clerk did an awesome job.  We had this guy with tPA running and the helicopter picking him up in record time.  By the time he left, he was already having some improvement.  Found out the guy is doing great.  Santa will be on his toy run once again this year.

These moments. . . these truly life-saving moments, are what I got into emergency nursing for.  I love being able to be a part of saving a life.  

Unfortunately, the fact that we dared take time to save somebody's life really pissed off some of our toothaches, abdominal pains, back pains, and ETOHers.  Even after explaining to them what the wait was all about, they just don't care.  What the hell is wrong with people?


  1. THOSE people afterwards are the ones where Press Ganey can bite my shiny metal @$$, as the robot said on Futurama.

    I ever so sweetly use every bit of sarcasm right up to and including "STFU" to explain to them that 10 people swarming around your little pink sack of protoplasm is generally a bad thing, and that since they aren't receiving that level of care tonight, they should fall to their knees in gratitude to either a benevolent Creator or an ambivalent swirl of starry oblivion.

    You have to count coup by frowns just as much as by smiles. I view them like pilots do takeoffs and landings: as much as possible, the numbers should match. They are the yin and yang, if you will, of working in the ER.

    Look at the bright side: come Christmas, you know which list you're on! Strong work.

    1. Yeah, my frustration at THOSE people is pretty much off the charts. One thing that seems to help with people who start with this is, "Well, the good news is you're NOT the sickest person here!" said in a sarcastic tone.

      Doesn't necessarily make them stop bitching, but it at least lets them know where they stand.

      Definitely looking forward to that suitcase full of hundred dollar bills that I'll be expecting from Santa this year.