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.

1 comment:

  1. You tell an important story that many could learn from. There is no such thing as a "routine" transport. Every transport offers us an opportunity to learn something. It may be something about medicine, medications, patient care, or life in general but whatever it is you have to have the right perspective to see it. You see it and that's why I love to stop in here and read your blog!