Death’s Doorstep

grim reaper, death, scaryIt’s a steady day in the emergency room- not too busy, when I overhear a nurse taking a call from another area of the hospital. Nuclear Medicine has a patient that is short of breath after a stress test. They want to send down the patient to the emergency room to get checked out.

I’ve got nothing better to do, so I walk down the hall to Nuc Med to see if I can help with the transfer down to our department. I walk in and see the patient- nearly as wide as they are tall- working very hard to breath. Fifteen liters of O2 isn’t helping with the respiratory distress. The patient isn’t thrilled about the idea of coming to the ER and is protesting- complaining that they’ll end up spending all day down there.

After a bit of persuasion- the patient is convinced to come pay us a visit in the ER. They drive their motorized wheelchair down the hall and I follow, carrying the oxygen bottle.

In the room, and into a gown, the patient is assisted with getting onto the gurney and complains of being uncomfortable. Next thing I know- the patient is slumping over, grunting…

“Uhhh…something’s happening!”

With just me, the nurse and the doc in the room- I sternal rub the patient and loudly try to coax a response. Nothing…

I ask “Are they seizing?”

“No!” Says the doc. He looks worried as he runs to grab gloves…

“Well…are they coding?” I ask.


I’m already checking for a pulse- no pulse! I flatten the bed and start cpr. The nurse runs for more help and soon the room is packed full as we work to save this persons life.

After a half an hour or so of stabilizing treatment, the team from the cath lab comes and takes the patient for a cardiac catheter. Later, I hear that the patient made it through the cath and that they think there’s a good chance they will survive.

It’s been over a week and the patient is still alive.

People think that cpr is such a lifesaver- when in fact, it’s usually unsuccessful in saving the individual that it’s performed on. You gotta remember- they’re dead when you start…

It was really cool to be a part of the team that gave this person another shot.