8.04.2008

Gracie

This is my late submission to NSR. The theme this week is "kids." I'm sure you all know what that NSR is by now, but if not, go check it out!

The pager beeps loudly as it vibrates across the table. I pick it up and check it, knowing full well I'm about to be on my way to whatever it is.

"CRITICAL ALERT, TRAUMA 1," it says, as if the capital letters are begging me to hurry. I grab my bucket and check it quickly.
IV needles gauges 16-24? Got them. Syringes, tubes, needles, gauze, alcohol, tourniquet, saline locks, and saline flushes? Got it all. I grab an extra pair of small gloves and stick them in my pocket as I make my way through the supply closet toward the first trauma suite.

A tech is carrying her in. She's seizing in his giant arms, her little hands hitting his chest, her tiny feet kicking towards his neck. She can't be more than 3. He puts her down as gingerly as he can, and I realize that other than the doctor, I'm the first one in.

"She's in status, I need to get some meds in, get me an IV." He's nearly bumping his head against mine as he leans over her. He's trying not to yell, but his voice cracks.

"I...I don't do IVs!"
"What?"
"I haven't done an IV yet!"
"Oh for the love of--DAVID!"

David looks up from whatever he's doing and pushes me out of the way. People are slowly filing in, taking what seems like a lifetime. I watch impatiently as David starts the IV and hands me two syringes of blood. Obligingly, I fill the 8 tubes with it, trying to ration it evenly.

She stops moving. Her eyes are glassy and rolled back, and she's taking on a bluish tint. I don't really hear much, I just let myself get pushed out of the room like a rag doll. I'm not quite sure how I managed to hang on to my bucket, the vials of blood, and 8 name labels, but I find myself back in the lab, sitting on the stool with wheels.

"Sam?" I hear something coming from somewhere around me, but I don't focus on it.
"Sam? Sam, you're so pale, are you okay?" The backside of a warm hand against my forehead brings me back to reality.
"What?"
"Are you okay?"
"Oh, yeah, yeah, I just...yeah."
"Um, okay. Want me to label that blood for you?"
"Sure."

I look down at the labels as a voice comes on the intercom. Grace Perez. "Code Blue, Trauma 1."
Grace Perez.
"Code Blue, Trauma 1."

I don't listen. I just watch. I go to the computer and order all the labs. I don't listen. I won't listen.

The doctor takes her mother into the consultation room. The heavy wooden door closes. A second later, I hear it.
"Gracie! Oh God, not my Gracie!" I sit back down and clutch at my scrub top. It feels too tight; everything feels too tight.

Her sobs choke out from behind that solid door, ringing around the ER. Guttural and real, they wrench my heart.

It's not until later that I hear the whole story. Her mother found her seizing in her room, and panics. She didn't call 911, but instead loads her Gracie into the car and drives her to the ER. I don't know how long she'd been seizing, not breathing.

All I know is that when I leave, my ears ring "Gracie."

5 comments:

Evil Lunch Lady said...

{{{HUGS}}} Oh my:(

Beaker said...

I know my own child code incident is going to happen eventually. I just hope that I can handle it as calmly as you.

Epijunky said...

Oh sweetheart.

*sigh*

MedicThree said...

Sam--As usual your writing blows me away with style, delivery, and emotion. Unfortunately I don't think peds codes every get any easier. Honestly, I have nightmares every so often about my first.

IF it was for the LEO's on scene at my first code, I would've ended up in jail.

Good Work Sam. Keep your chin up and remember that every so often we get to help those that need it, and when you get a patient that not only need your help--but you have the ability to do something--it makes a lot of crap just plain old go away.

Walt Trachim said...

I know exactly what you describe, having been there myself. Kid codes are so hard to deal with, and it's even tougher when you're a parent. Any time I've been to a serious/critical pediatric call, I've never been able to not think of my own kids. And it doesn't matter that they are grown. I also learned that it's okay to cry, which I did after both of the codes that I was on. And two is too many.

Praying for both of you, Sam.....