Thursday, July 28, 2011

To Be European?

Perhaps it reinforces bad behavior, but I can't help but scramble toward any commotion that I hear in the ER. I am drawn to the dramas that unfold as a person loses rationality. Everyone has a different way of acting out and it is difficult to tell how any one individual may be. For example, the quiet middle-aged man in the corner could suddenly jump up and attack a passerby without warning, the bratty college student might begin to scream in one pitch until she gets her way (or shut in the ambulance bay by herself), or the little old lady (LOL) might suddenly decide to throw out a few F-bombs, rip her neck collar off and yell at a nurse to get out of her room.

Today, it was the last one- My LOL, Ms. Stick, was making a fuss. She managed, with a thick accent, to curse several nurses out of the room after ripping her C-collar off.
The C-collar (cervical collar) is an uncomfortable but necessary device that holds a person's neck still to discourage nerve damage from shifting/fractured bones. She had fallen and broken her leg, and also previously complained of neck pain. The doctor went in to check to see if the C-collar needed to be re-applied.

Doctor: Hi, Ms. Stick, my name is Doctor and-
Ms. Stick: Are you the top doctor?
Doctor: Yes, I am the senior res-
Ms. Stick: Oh good, because I don't want to talk to anybody else. Doctor, I'm in so much pain!
Doctor: Yes, I know that. I have to make sure your neck is ok.
Ms. Stick: I did not break my neck, see? (starts to roll neck around)
Doctor: Don't do that! Just relax and I will check you out. (puts hands on c-spine) Does it hurt here?
Ms. Stick: A little...
Doctor:... well, we might have to put it back o-
Ms. Stick: NO! It doesn't hurt!!! It doesn't hurt!!
Doctor: ... does it hurt here? (continuing) Here? Here?
Ms. Stick: No, no, no.
Doctor: Touch your chin to your chest, like this. Does that hurt?
Ms. Stick: (grimace) A little.
Doctor: Well, now I have to put it on.
Ms. Stick: !! NO! NO WAY! Do the test again. I will answer correctly this time. It doesn't hurt here, here here here, or here! (waves arms emphatically)
Doctor: ... can we just try it for a little whi--
Ms. Stick: No!!

Ms. Stick was one of those unfortunate patients that has no visible or palpable veins. It was impossible to get an IV on her and Doctor had to come in again to use an ultrasound machine to find an artery on her ample arm in order to draw labs. I accompanied him as an extra pair of hands.

Me: Hi, Ms. Stick. I'm S and I am a technician, nice to meet you.
Ms. Stick: Nice to meet you.
Me: I would like to verify, is your first name "Hard"?'
Ms. Stick: Yes, it is.
Me: And your birthday?
Ms. Stick: April 1, 1930
Me: Thank you for answering my questions. We are going to draw some labs, Ms. Stick.
Doctor: It will be the last stick, promise.
Ms. Stick: They always have trouble with me. I like her, she is polite, unlike everybody else here. She must be European, like me!
Doctor: What about me??
Ms. Stick: I don't think so.
Doctor smiles at me- he is fresh from Eastern Europe, I am obviously not.
I held Ms. Stick's hand as we pierced her radial artery to get labs. It was like squeezing blood from a radish. We got most of them, but even with the artery, there was very little blood coming through.
Ms. Stick: They've done this before too. It is nothing they hadn't done to me before.

Ms. Stick had to go to CT scan, which would not take her without a collar. After another hullabaloo, we managed to send her there with it on. I give her credit: she is extremely spirited and independent. She had her own ideas and things were going to be done her way, because she is her own advocate for comfort and care. I liked her, despite the fuss- maybe because she reminds me a little of my mother.


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