July 21, 2010

Death, and Circumstances Surrounding It

I had another idea for a post on here since it's been a while, but alas life (or death) poked it's nose in and changed that plan.

I woke up this morning to a text message saying my grandma was in cardiac arrest and they were doing CPR. I got on the phone with my mom and found out which hospital. I got dressed in my Paramedic uniform and headed to the hospital (I was still expecting to go to work in a little bit anyhow, which is why I wore my uniform)

I get to the hospital and they bring me to a room where my parents and a chaplain already are. Chaplain states his presence doesn't mean she's dead, he's just there anyhow.

Doctor came in a little bit later, and gave the story. Apparently she coded this morning at a rehab facility, and FD brought her to the ER. He said after a few rounds of drugs and shocking her heart, they got a rhythm back, yet she was still unconscious. Right after stating that, his phone rang and he left the room. Came back a couple of minutes later and said she coded again and this time they couldn't get her back.

My parents, my siblings and I stayed there for about 4 hours, just soaking it in. I called in to work to get the day off. It wouldn't be fair to my patients for me to work today.

A few of the things surrounding this though made me think that God had a hand in it. I believe in God, but in the recent past I've had some questions of faith, not for anything in particular, but after today it made me reinstate my faith.

First is that my grandma is usually at a living facility 30 minutes away, but she just got sent to a rehab, 5 minutes from my parents house, just last Friday, making the trip to the hospital very short instead of a near 45 minute drive. On top of that, two of my aunts had been planning on coming down from Wisconsin to visit my Grandma tomorrow, and had been planning this trip anyway... it's just funny how it worked out to be the day after she died, so that they actually already had the week off.


July 15, 2010

Getting a Job in EMS

So one of my friends, Life of a Transport Jockey, just recently got a conditional offer by an ambulance provider for a job, which he has been looking for for a few months now since leaving his last one. (Good luck bro)

That got me thinking: I hate job searching as a new grad medic. You're fresh out of school, and sure places can mold you to the medic they want you to be, but you're still largely untested, which I can only assume is not a good thing when you have the responsibility level that being a Paramedic entails.

Now, yes, I do already have a job, and I do get some OK calls at it, but I honestly did not get in to EMS to do mainly BLS transports that, 99% of the time, do not need a Paramedic level response. Yes, I use it as a learning tool, and yes I know 911 still has the same "BS" calls as IFT has, but alas, in the 911 I HAVE done as a medic I actually feel like I'm making a difference, even if just slightly, and THAT is what I got in to EMS for. No, not the hero complex, but really just helping people.

Oh yes, and the money...

I guess my main problem is I don't want to move out of Texas, and the DFW area in particular, which limits the amount of 911 jobs that AREN'T Fire-based EMS.

The ONE thing that has kept me from getting with the local busy 911 that I've wanted to get on with since EMT school was the "I strongly agree / strongly disagree" type psych test. For some reason, the two times I've taken it at 2 different agencies, I failed it. Now how I fail a test like that I don't know, but at every other agency that had it I passed fine.

I'm going to stick with my current employer till around September/October when my 6 month probation is up, then apply to transfer to one of their Texas 911 branches. If unable, then I'll be moving.

My ultimate goal agency is Austin/Travis county EMS down in Austin... let's see if I can make it.

July 10, 2010

No, I Will NOT Move My Ambulance (Rant alert)

For the people that know me in my personal life, away from the Paramedic uniform, I'm an easy going, and yes, shy, guy.

But put that uniform on and my Type-A personality comes out to play. I've attributed it to the fact that I need to get done what has to be done for my patient, regardless of how it makes me look, so I'm a lot less shy when doing my job, which can end up irking a few people that prohibit me from doing my job.

I guess that's also partly to do with medic school where they pretty much beat in to you that YOU are the leader of patient care, and YOU have to get things done. Now, that doesn't mean I pull Paragod stuff on people or think I'm the best as I treat everyone, from ECAs to EMTs and nurses with respect, but I am not beyond putting my foot down, saying enough is enough, and being a bit brunt when it comes to MY patient, and MY patient care.

Last night I thought I'd pick up an OT shift just for some extra cash, so I was with an EMT I haven't been with before. Near the end of our shift we were called to a psych hospital (yes, THAT one) for a patient "with chest pain", and once we got there, the only place to park our ambulance was by pretty much blocking 1 of 2 entrances to the lot. Once at the patient, he said he felt "palpitations"(his word), he was noticeably short of breath, and a little diaphoretic.

I took him out to the ambulance to do the rest of my assessment, and was just starting my 12-lead when some strange person opened my back doors and told me to move. I told him I was with a patient and that I'd be moving once I got some things done, but he could go to the other exit... he closed the door.

A minute later, he opens the door again, this time flashing a physicans ID and demanding that I move my ambulance so he could leave and go to another hospital. This time, I was done being polite... I told him I was with a chest pain patient and that he will have to wait until I'm done, and "please shut my door".

That obviously didn't meld with his ideals, because he promptly went to one of the police officers that was in the parking lot and started throwing a fit. Luckily the cop had actually brought a piece of my equipment out to my truck for me, so he knew I was with a patient, and therefor wasn't hearing any of the complaints that "doctor" had to yell about.

I am fully expecting this guy to phone a complaint to my work, or if he knows my medical director, to complain to him. Bring it on.

I don't care who you are, I don't care what your professional title is, you do NOT tell me to move my ambulance, or do anything else, when I'm dealing with a patient. (Unless, of course, you're a cop, my supervisor, or my med control)

And on top of that, what kind of "physician" worth their title would dismiss a chest pain/shortness of breath patient just for some convenience?

Rant over.

July 6, 2010

Update to "Doing the Minimum"

I wrote a post last month about a patient who I picked up who had OD'd.

He ended up passing a couple of days later in the ICU.

Not anything shocking considering his nearly 109* temp, just a weird one as they say the ones that are your age strike you a bit differently.

July 1, 2010

All I Could Repay Him With Was Morphine

I had a patient last night that, atleast temporarily, but hopefully for longer, changed my outlook on life and circumstances.

And this is the story of Billy-Joe-John-Eric (obviously not his name)

Billy-Joe-John-Eric used to be in a customer services related job that he LOVED, and much like me and Paramedicine, just sort of fell in to it, as it was neither of our plans to do what we do. He said he loved his job because he got to meet new and amazing people every day, and have fun, and it just clicked with his personality. He did that job for 21 years.

Then one day his accident happened. He fell out of a higher elevation, and broke his back, paralyzing him from the thoracic vertebrae down, though he still had function of his arms. And that's how he and I met.

We were called to transfer a patient from a hospital to a rehab, and seeing as how it was a BLS call, I opted to have my EMT partner run it (as I seemed to be getting ALL the calls lately). Once we got the the hospital my partner was getting his paperwork done as I walked in to the room to find the nurse giving Billy-Joe-John-Eric dilaudid for the trip. Billy-Joe-John-Eric was obviously in a lot of pain, arms shaking, grunting, yet when I walked in he gave me a smile and seemed as chipper as could be.

The nurse, my partner, and I moved Billy-Joe-John-Eric to our cot, causing pain due to decubitus ulcers he had present. I didn't like it. I told my partner I was upgrading to ALS and that'd I'd take over, as I wanted to get some more pain meds on board for the transport as the Dilauded obviously wasn't cutting it. We got out to the ambulance and I gave Billy-Joe-John-Eric some Morphine... though I gave it to him under one condition that he agreed to: Don't fall asleep on me, it causes too much work :D Knocked the pain from 9/10 to 3/10.

During transport he and I spoke, and he told me his story. When his accident first happened he said he questioned God: Why would a loving god take someone away from a career that they love and get to meet new people in? He finally decided that God was a jealous one, and wanted Billy-Joe-John-Eric to worship him more. I brought up the counter point that maybe he wanted Billy-Joe-John-Eric to meet people in a different capacity, and affect people in a different way. And actually, Billy-Joe-John-Eric agreed, stating that he has met a multitude of great people in the healthcare field, from doctors to nurses, and he even named me, that he would have never had the pleasure to meet had this not happened.

And that is when it struck me: This guy pretty much had his life ripped away from him, yet he was content, and maybe even happy! Not happy that he's paralyzed or that he couldn't do his beloved job anymore, but genuinely happy to be alive. We in EMS see life ripped away from people too soon, and are constantly reminded at the fragility of life, but we also build up somewhat of an immunity to it and like to pretend that it can't ever be us.

If this guy could be happy given his circumstances, and still want to live life, it makes all my current trials and tribulations in my personal life seem all that much less important. He changed my outlook on a few things, and I hope that lesson sticks as long as it can.

And all I could repay him with was morphine.