29 January 2006

There is no suitable title for this post

It's been a strange weekend to tell the truth.

I wish I could summise exactly how I feel at the moment, but I don't think I would even know where to begin. I may reach a point by the end of the post where I manage to explain my feelings, but I'm writing this as the words roll out of my head, through my hands and onto the keyboard. This is not a planned post - just straight up.

As I mentioned before, I was observing this weekend with the ambulance service. Due to other observers being out this weekend also, I went out on the FRU with a paramedic and started the day with a maternataxi call. Everything was fine and dandy - the ambulance arrived at the same time we did, and we left the expectant mother in their capable hands.

A couple more jobs, several cups of tea and a snooze in a chair later, and we get called off station to a 'female not breathing'. Age unknown, no other details. In this particular vehicle the satellite navigation screen had been stolen by some unscrupulous chav, so I was flicking through the A-Z trying to find the address. Thankfully this didn't slow us down, as we both knew the general area.

Arrival at the scene meets us with a hysterical father crying and screaming. I've never seen a man cry this way, and I knew something was desperately wrong. Tom Reynolds has discussed this in depth on his blog, and upon hearing the way that man cried in anguish, I guess I knew that the patient was a child. I'm generally a pro-active observer, and will do as I'm told if it will help, so I grabbed the monitor from the back of the car and followed the paramedic into the house. Lying in the middle of the floor was a 9 week old baby undergoing CPR from her mother. I can only presume that mum was still on the phone with the emergency call taker.

At this point I was a cold callous heartless cow. It didn't occur to me that this was a baby, or someone's child - it was just a patient in cardiac arrest. This was where my feelings were different to those of the attending paramedic.

Thankfully the ambulance was immediately behind us, as it had also been on station and left just after we did. It was decided that the tactical abandonment of the FRU was required, and we all piled into the back of the ambulance. The parents followed in the car, and everything that could be done was done. Having to do chest compressions on a baby feels perverse because the body is so small when you stand over it.

I felt like such a spare part - especially as I was being asked to do things and I just didn't know what I was doing. I'm not yet medically trained, so I don't know what some things are, or where certain things are kept. I just felt like a complete arsehole.

At this point I think the realisation dawned on me that this wasn't going to be a happy ending. Cardiac output was regained at the hospital, but the outlook was bleak for this poor soul. I understand what is meant by an anguished scream, as you could tell when the parents had arrived at the hospital by the primal sound emitted through the doors of resus. I really felt for the family, but selfishly I just felt shit for not being able to help properly. I felt guilty that I may have hindered the paramedics by not knowing my stuff. I honestly still don't know how I feel.

In true Merys style I stayed in last night and polished off several bottles of magners. This did manage to hinder my getting up this morning, and I felt like something had crawled inside my mouth and died for most of the day.

This post hasn't made me feel any better - in fact I would say I feel especially shite now for talking about it. This post may not stay on the blog for long, depending on how I feel this time tomorrow. I have the feeling that this patient will haunt me forever, no matter whether I become a paramedic or a doctor.

I'm very tired and starting to lose momentum and balance, so I'm going to call it a day before I fall down. Off to bed for a long sleep I reckon - just in time to get up for another week of thrilling lectures this week. Not sure how much I will be able to concentrate on



Anonymous said...


They wouldn't let observers out if they were going to hinder paramedics. I hope you're ok, but please don't blame yourself.


Kal said...

I completely agree with Jo and in addition, you don't get to go out on FRUs until they know and trust you.

At the end of the day, you're an observer. You has a basic role to play, to stand back and observe and if it all goes wrong, you fall back to that role.

I'm yet to 'do' my first dead kid, I know it'll fuck me up.


Tom Reynolds said...

Without this comment turning into an essay...

...everything that you are feeling is normal. You aren't a monster, you weren't in the way, and any lack of knowledge isn't your fault.

So your feelings are normal, and in a while you'll feel better - small consolation now I know.


Fuckkit said...

Mate, soooo not your fault and they very fact that you're feeling this way means you're not a cold heartless cow.

zhoen said...

Good. Feeling awful is exactly how you are supposed to feel. All deaths will stay with you, also good and normal. This is how you learn.
Good too that you did not feel it in the moment- the sure mark of a medical professional in the making. You don't panic during the crisis. You have a heart, and you can put it on hold.
Ease up on the drinking after, though. Keep it to one or two, or you will have a whole load of other issues to deal with.

thinblueline said...

Its when you dont feel like this, is when you should worry.

I have been to countless RTA's and deaths now.. each and every one gets to me...

I dont think that is a bad thing.
It makes me work harder.