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.

One thought on “Death’s Doorstep

  1. I understand. I’ve seen that happen too.
    I saw a young 20 y/o girl come into the ER shot point blank range in the chest by police when she was inside her house, while walking down the stairs at her parents house with a gun drawn.
    Her parents downstairs heard the first shot while she was upstairs and thought she was committing suicide in her bedroom and called the police because they were too scared to investigate themselves. The Fire Dept arrived first, she fired 2 shots in the air over their heads out her bedroom window. Police arrived. She fired two more airborne shots over their heads. Police entered the house. From the second story, she walked down her stairwell and must have raised her own handgun toward police. Police shot first and buried 2x- 45caliber rounds into her chest, center mass.
    When we got her at the ER, the trauma surgeon scrambled to stop massive internal bleeding from a hole the size of 3 fingers wide, almost 3 inches across, with heart and bullet shrapnel everywhere inside. Half the heart was blown apart. The bullets completely made her heart explode, and tore right through it. After 10 minutes of struggling, the surgeon called everyone off, and stopped repairative surgery. She was dead. Blood poured off the table in pools, dripping like a waterfall on all sides. This was the most blood I’d ever seen from a trauma victim. In prepping her body for the medical examiner, the female workers cut all her clothes off and I finally got a look at her young face and body as a whole. She was beautiful and in her prime. She was stunning. It was extremely tragic to see such a beautiful person, in juxtaposition with blood and death, ripped from her youth, robbed of a good life horrifically at such a young age.
    She looked like she was 15 y/o, I later found out she was actually 20 y/o. I was dumb struck at the whole seen and realized I was in a state of shock. I kept saying to myself: “Damn, she is soooo young”. I quickly reflected on women I knew near her age…..she could have been my sister. It was disturbing to see someone so young die like this. Many ER workers were very angry and disturbed as well, and made off-the-cuff comments that I recognized as their coping mechanism to rationalize the whole bad situation by blaming others. We all did what we could, but she still died. It was a rough night and a mood of frsutration loomed over the ER from the next hour while the police where still present.

    The police protected themselves and did a great job in this situation to control someone with a loaded weapon pointed straight at them, but it was tragic that such a young person had to die like this and loose their life.

    I have seen many very bad car crashes with open fractures and bones sticking out, but this young person loosing their life, with blood pouring all over the floor in rivers, under complicated circumstances while remain with me.

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