You might think from the title- that this post is about a patient with respiratory issues…it’s not. You know when you have one of those days at work when the demand is high and your energy supply just seems inadequate? Today was one of those days.

It wasn’t bad to start but the emergency room is one of those places where one “customer” can require an incredible amount of time and energy. Run to ct scan, form a splint, down to mri, check in an ambulance…the list goes on. It can become difficult to stay in a caring and focused mindset when you’re brain is going through the checklist of what you’ve accomplished and what you still have to get done.

Then the patient that makes it all come crashing down. Someone that cares less about there immediate well-being than they do about having a cigarette.

In this particular case, the patient is suffering from a severe injury. The injury is so bad, the trauma surgeon says that it’s the worst of it’s kind that he’s witnessed in 20 years on the job.  What does this patient do during their stay? They curse and complain, yell and threaten…partially in pain…mostly- because they want a cigarette.

The nicotine drama is nothing new in the ER. Quite frequently, being denied the opportunity to inhale the sweet carcinogenic cloud that tobacco provides, our patients can become agitated beyond reason and often end up leaving against medical advice.  Every once in a while, someone is such a handful, and our desire to treat their condition is so great, that we’ll break policy and allow the patient out to smoke.

Back to our problem child- gravely injured and yet most concerned about their cigarette break…a doctor gives the go ahead to take the patient outside in a wheelchair to smoke. I get the joy of accompanying said individual out to inhale un-fresh air. This is where it really gets interesting.

As we approach the door to the ambulance bay, I notice this person doesn’t have a cigarette- ready and prepared to go. So my question is: “did you bring your cigarettes with you?” The response I get: “Nope, but I’m sure as hell gonna bum one!”

Unbelievable, that after all this drama, this person didn’t even have a cigarette to smoke. There’s no way I’m gonna let this patient approach someone on the sidewalk, even though a potential victim has already been spotted at the bus stop. I can’t believe I’m gonna do this, but I walk over and ask hippy #1 at the bus stop for a cigarette- he’s happy to oblige me.  Am I done humiliating myself yet?…Nope! My gravely injured and furiously addicted friend informs me that they are without a tool to make fire…wow. Now I have to go back to the bus hippy and ask if he’ll light the cigarette for me. The look on his face was priceless- He says “you want me to light it for you?” like I’m some kind of pervert. Nevertheless, he hooks me up and I carry the torch of hope back to my friend.

When the smoke clears, and the patient is back in bed, it can take a while to de-compress from the stress of an incident. This particular case wasn’t too bad but it’s always good to remember why we are in medicine. For me, I’m there to serve, and if that means bumming a cigarette (and a light) to ensure that a patient stays to recieve the care that they really need….I’ll do it. It’s all about perspective…


My first post…hmm…what to say…

Let’s start with a little background. I’m an EMT working in an emergency room and this is a diary (manly version) of the happenings of day to day life. Nothing is ever the same and when you think you’ve seen it all- something surprises you.  I love telling the stories from work and most people are fascinated by the human dramas that unfold in the emergency room. Heartbreak and anguish, anger and regret, pain and pleasure- pursued, are some of the regular overtones of the day.  You’ll notice that peace isn’t found among the list. It’s rarely quiet in the ER, and when it is…everyone is on edge waiting for the world to come crashing off it’s rotation.

No matter the chaos, my role in the ER is to try and bring peace and comfort to those I serve, and serve with. The emergency room can be a place of desperate sadness and can cause those working in it’s core to become jaded and cold. I’ve felt it before, but my constant goal is to be refreshed spiritually and pour the love that I feel- into the lives of those I serve.

My best efforts to document the paths that I cross, and the struggles I observe will be contained in this blog. Personal victories, believe it or not, are many, and when they occur- it’s a powerful thing.  The opportunity that I have to serve such a vast diversity of people is truly an honor. I don’t have all the education of a registered nurse, or the expertise of a doctor, but I do have a love for people, a desire to see healing, and a passion for those in pain.

So whether it’s the story of a broken limb, a guy who swallowed his toothbrush (really…a full size one too) or a prostitute crying when she realizes that people can still care…I’ll be bringing it to you here. My desire is that you can benefit from my experiences and I can grow in the process. Thanks for stopping by.