Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Job ALWAYS has new Twists

I haven’t posted in several days because I have had little time and that time has been devoted to reading and absorbing the best That Justin and Mark have to offer, and they are satisfying the requirement and expectations. Go read their stuff if you haven’t yet. The Happy Medic and 999Medic have links over in the right column.
I have also spent a lot of time thinking about my co-worker that my last post was about. I don’t usually get wrapped up in my patients and their problems unless I can be of some concrete help to them, which isn’t very often, considering my training level. I am a good hand-holder though, or at least that’s what I have been told. Still, this was my first serious call for a co-worker on the job and there are a lot of dynamics I had never considered.
Of course, everybody in the plant expects me to know the details of George’s condition and readily share that information. I repeat what is public knowledge and tell them I don’t know anymore, which is mostly true. I don’t speculate. Anything I have learned this week has come to me through the company grapevine (read as “public knowledge”) and it isn’t sounding too good.
George made it to the hospital OK, but it got worse as time went on for him. They told his wife that he probably would not survive the night, they flew him to a Cardiac Hospital and admitted him to ICU after they put a intra-aortic balloon pump in him (goggle it, it’s pretty cool). They said he needs a transplant, it’s the only option. The guys and gals in the shop pretty much think it’s over for him and keep asking me what I think will happen.
I blew off the question the first time it was asked by saying that I had no idea what the details were, and that I lacked enough training to even rate having an opinion. But I DID think about it.
I’ve been pretty bummed that I could not do more for George and I beat myself up over it a little bit. I ran the job over and over in my head and came to realize that I did everything right, didn’t miss anything, and chose the correct priorities. I reviewed the job at length with my respected partner and he emphatically stood by the fact that I did all I could do and should feel good about the job, it was a ‘clean call’. Still I felt bad until I figured out that I was not bummed about my actions or abilities, I was bummed because it was a co-worker and friend. This is a totally different thing, and I am “OK” with feeling bad about that.
All week long people have been catching me alone and saying how impressed they were with my coolness and professionalism and how George was lucky to have me around. If they only knew what was going on in my head.
This afternoon, I got a call from George. He is in ICU, and can’t do anything until they find a donor and ‘do the deed’. He is totally upbeat, sounds great and cheerful and wanted to thank me for what I did for him. He says he doesn’t remember much of the whole ordeal (which confirmed for me that I was right when I thought he was dropping off on the ‘alertness scale’ even thought he could answer my questions). He does not remember the chopper flight or much of what happened after he left the plant, He does remember a lot of people coming around when he didn’t feel well.
I will pray for George tonight and hope he comes back to us even if he doesn’t come back to work. He is a good man and that is enough for me.
So as I said, I’ve been thinking about how to answer the question of what I think will happen to George and I’ve changed my tune because I realize that just maybe I have seen more than most of my co-workers have. Now I tell them this: “I don’t know enough about medicine to render an opinion on George’s situation, but in my experience as an EMT, I have learned to NEVER give up hope because I have seen people I did not expect to live all the way to the hospital, go on to recover and live long fruitful lives against all odds. It isn’t over until it’s over and tomorrow is always a new day.”
I hope George proves me right.

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