5.03.2008

Tornado (pt. 2)

"Station 1, 87 year old difficulty breathing, Dialysis Center on 293 West Main."
I check my watch--it's 6:50 in the morning. After some lazy math, I figure I've slept about 4 hours.
"Let's go, Sam," Eric says to me from the doorway.
"I'm coming, I'm coming."
"I'll drive so you can lace your boots up on the way, okay?"
"Thanks."
As we pass the men's bunk room, I see Drew come out. He's shirtless and wearing boxer shorts, looking completely confused.
"Do I need to..." he pauses, yawning.
"No, we're fine. You have work in a bit." I laugh as he turns around and shuffles back into the dark.
I take a seat in the medic, and sigh. I hate taking the elderly to the hospital, because you never know if or when they'll be coming home.
One time, I took an unresponsive woman to the hospital. She was fine in the morning, and by the time we arrived, she had a dilated left pupil and a constricted right pupil. She died two days later. I'll never forget the nurse in the convalescent home standing in the corner, crying hysterically into a tissue as we took her out on the stretcher.
These calls weigh on you, and part of me really hates being a part of people's final moments. But I know that of all people, I'm a good one to have there.
As we go into the Dialysis Center, it's obvious that this woman isn't doing well. She never started today's treatment because the nurse was too concerned about her and called us.
We waste little time and I get en route to the hospital. Because it's the day after the tornado, we opt to go to the other hospital so as to keep from stressing the damaged one too much.
I drive emergency to the hospital, my lights flashing wildly and my siren screeching as I approach an intersection. I know it's going to be a bumpy ride as we approach the bridge, but I'm more concerned about getting her there in a timely manner.
I'm in a zone--focused and shutting out everything else that doesn't matter at that moment. The tornado, my exams, boy problems--they're all gone, lost to the clarity of my mind at the time. I barely hear Eric as he says something to me.
"What," I ask looking in the rear view mirror.
"I need you to get me there quicker," he repeats and I see a look of panic spreading across his face. He turns around and I see a bag-valve mask sitting on the seat, opened and ready to go.
"Christ," I mutter under my breath.
As we arrive, I leap out of the driver's seat and head towards the back. A paramedic from the city helps me get her out as Eric continues disconnecting her from all the instruments. The paramedic shoots me a look that echoes Eric's, and I feel so small.
I hate taking the elderly to the hospital, I think again, allowing myself out of that focused zone.
Within moments of our arrival, she's hooked up to a nitro drip and put on CPAP so she can breathe. She squeezes my hand as we leave as if to thank me, and I smile back at her, hoping I don't share that panicked look.
"I thought she was going to code back there," Eric says as he peels off his gloves.
"I was doing the best I could to get you there."
"You were fine, I just panicked. If she had arrested, I would have had you in the back with me as we called for back up, and I really didn't want that to happen."
"You and me both. How long do you think she has?"
"Renal failure and now this? A few weeks tops."
My heart sinks, and I stare at the ground. Just then, Good Morning America returns from commercial in the EMS room, and I hear something about the tornado.
"Yesterday afternoon, Suffolk, Virginia was hit with a devastating F3 tornado. It's estimated that 145 homes are to be condemned, and a state of emergency was declared earlier." They show pictures of firefighters doing search and rescue and I laugh. It's not often you see your friends and colleagues on national TV.
"Our thoughts are with them. Thank you, Matt. In other news, Miley Cyrus is the focus of a hot-button issue. She was photographed in a provocative manner for a magazine article hitting stands soon. So what do you tell your kids?"
I'm dumbfounded. I watch for another 5 minutes as the TV prattles on about Miley and her bare back.
"A tornado hits Suffolk, and you spend maybe 20 seconds reminding the nation, but Miley Cyrus shows some skin and oh shit this is serious business."
"Hmm?" I see Eric lift his head up from his PPCR narrative, and I shake my head.
"Nothing."
As we drive back to the station, I am silent. I think about our patient, Miley Cyrus, and the condemned homes. I slide open my phone and dial my mom.
"Hey Mom, just wanted to tell you I love you."
"Is everything okay?"
"Yep. Skies are blue--you'd never know we just had a tornado."
"I mean...are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine."
"Alright, let me know if you need anything."
"Will do. Love you."
"Love you too."

2 comments:

AnniforsciA said...

I love you.

I really hope that if I'm ever in the back of an ambulance you're there being all Sam-y and capable.

<3Anni

John-Michael said...

You ... My Darling Sam, are RIGHT NOW, this very moment, on the highest pedestal of this old Fart's Heart! I do adore all that is every particle of who You are!! The character, grace, candor, and humanity that you reveal in this piece is captivating ... and endearing.

I love You Sweetheart!