Thursday, March 12, 2009

Second chances

It's humbling to see someone who, by all rights, shouldn't be alive right now. It's humbling to see someone be in the process of death and then be brought out of it. It's humbling to see a husband who is dying get a chance to live and see his wife again.

I've been orienting in Trauma since the past week or so, and I've seen some interesting but not too wild stuff. Critical but not fatal has been the name of the game, which makes for nice learning opportunities but few oh-s**t moments. I've dealt with a few MVCs, codes in progress, some chest pain workups, an electrocution, but no patients who went from alive to in danger of dying in the next 8 seconds without intervention.

Enter Chest Pain Sweaty Man. He came in by ambulance, and when he rolled through the doors we all did a double take. The Rosetta EKG sent in by EMS was clean, but we've been taught to treat the patient and not the machines. Chest Pain Sweaty Man looked like utter crap. He was talking fine, but had that weird gray color to him and was in danger of dehydrating solely through sweat. As EMS was sliding him from their stretcher to ours, a nurse was getting report. Chest Pain Sweaty Man took that moment to pass Go and collect his V fib and unconsciousness.

My preceptor grabbed the crash cart while I snagged the defibrillator, and we ran to the room. I charted, pads were placed, and we shocked Chest Pain Sweaty Dying At This Moment Man. I have seen plenty of unsuccessful codes, and I have seen the ones where a rhythm comes back but the person doesn't, but I have never seen a person get shocked and just...wake up.

Chest Pain Sweaty Alive Again Man opened his eyes, looks at us, and goes "oww, that hurt!" We all stared at him for a second, then snapped into action again. EKG showed tombstones that I could see from across the room. From V fib to cath lab was 12 minutes. It was impressive. Last I heard, Chest Pain Sweaty Man is back to being Husband and Father Man.
I have been blessed in almost all aspects of my life, from the mundane to the big. But Chest Pain Sweaty Man? Being given a second chance at life is the ultimate blessing. I can't help but be humbled every time I think of him. He should be dead right now. But because we were able to get to him quickly and work efficiently, he will wake up tomorrow and spend time with his wife and family.

It's been two months since I started in this career, and Chest Pain Sweaty Man drove home why I'm in it. Thanks, CPSM.

***
Crass-Pollination had a very similar incident happen at her hospital. I don't think, when I was deciding to go into nursing, that I was expecting this stuff to happen all that often. Sadly, it does.

1 comment:

keepbreathing said...

We had one like that about a month ago. This dude came in screaming "I'm Gonna Die!" and sweating profusely through every pore in his body, bolt upright on the stretcher. We threw the pads on him and saw active VTACH, and the doc just hit the charge and deliver button. A few million volts of voom later, he was in sinus tach and feeling a lot better.

Scary!