Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." Genesis 9:13

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

In a heartbeat

Today was just not going overly smoothly. I'm tired and people weren't available when I wanted them, and I'm tired of paperwork. I had 2 patients in the last week go home before being treated, which means I waste about an hour of my life, minimum.

I have one patient I'm close to, who has been getting a minimum of an hour a day since right after I started from me. We've gotten close. I really care a lot about her.

Tonight she choked at dinner. Not just a "that was scary" choke, a 6 of us working on her and thinking "she's going to die and I can't do anything more than I am right now" choke. 911 time. The kind of thing where adrenaline gave me strength to hold her upright with one arm after she passed out while the nurse did the Heimlich and I used the other arm to stimulate her. She's not small and there is no way my normal strength could have supported her dead weight with one arm. When we finally had her breathing a little and could move her onto her bed to hope she would cough or vomit up the rest while laying safely on her side (and I also learned that one of the weird things is that you're so focused on what's happening that you find yourself thinking "vomit, vomit, vomit, hit me with vomit" because you're in front of her and so desperately want her to clear it) 4 or 5 of us lifted her to bed; again it was like lifting air and she was dead weight and totally unconscious.

At one point her roommate who was trapped on the other side of the room was panicking and I pulled the curtain. The patient's husband was there and I told him he could look or not but it might get ugly for a while. But I never can take away what he did see. I can't even describe the color of his wife's face before the heimlich started to work a little and some air got in. The color is when I thought she'd die. Or the scary limpness of her upper body.

And the sound....She was fighting with all she had. And I know that when I was around someone who choked to death she made no sounds because she never was moving air. I know the sound was just the air moving around a large object. But oh. That is something I'll never forget. And it makes me understand how terrible the death of a patient who choked alone a number of years ago probably was. I pray that she passed out quickly.

I'm talking about it tonight but trying to not do so in a way that is upsetting to others. I know I'm well hardened with these things and it got to me. But tomorrow is going to be a hard therapy visit because someone has to hear the whole story and I think it has to be someone outside the ones of us there.

I need sleep. I hope some comes.


Jon said...

Wow. You're a strong person, but I knew that already.

Just Me said...

Thanks. It did not feel strong. You think the training will kick in, and it does, but not as fully as I had thought. I couldn't make her not be someone I cared deeply about. I couldn't stop thinking she was going to die and that we weren't doing enough, even knowing we were. And I cried through much of it.

I hope that's my once in my career experience.....