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Ramblings Of A Troubled IHadAPheo

Sat Jan 11, 2003 12:45 pm

Hello all, please excuse the following ramblings but I just have to vent a bit. As some of you may know I have been an an Emergency Room Tech for the past 13 years (and that period is the longest uninterrupted streak in the ER) and have offered up tales of some of my adventures in the ER.

Recently I have started to be troubled by some of the things I have had to see and do in the ER, the event that brought this all to a head was on Christmas day... we had a fairly good day going until we received a call that we were going to receive a "trauma code", well it turned out that this was not just a single person but two.. the first was a 20ish year old female who was 7 months pregnant and her brother who was celebrating his 17th birthday on Christmas. After running to get a sonogram machine we found that the unborn child had no signs of life, shortly there after both individuals were pronounced dead. Part of my duties are to prepare the bodies for viewing by the family and after they leave I also have to do post mortem care and take the bodies to the morgue.

So my trouble is this, after seeing and doing all this, I had to go home and try to enjoy Christmas day with my family but my thoughts were with the family of the dead and all I could see was the vision of the two bodies wrapped and awaiting the trip to the morgue. Also in the past few weeks we have had a large number of young traumatic deaths come through our ER. A man in his mid 20's from a auto accident (who would be alive if he had been wearing a seat belt) and a 40 year old male who died in a fire after falling asleep while smoking on a couch.

Well there is my rant, I'm sorry to have bored you all with the details but I just had to vent,The Christmas day deaths have so troubled be that I am taking a break from the ER Tech job and am moving "behind the glass" to do some order entry work for a bit.

The Melancholy IHadAPheo
Pray hard but pray with care For the tears that you are crying now Are just your answered prayers
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RE: Ramblings Of A Troubled IHadAPheo

Sat Jan 11, 2003 12:55 pm

I wouldn't call that a rambling at all, but rather more of an emotional "core dump." While I certainly can't know exactly how you feel (I mean, I'm just a computer tech), I can imagine and empathize--I hope you can find peace and solace before returning to your work.
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RE: Ramblings Of A Troubled IHadAPheo

Sat Jan 11, 2003 12:55 pm

IhadaPheo, I hope you can put it past you. It is difficult but on the positive side, savor every moment you can with your loved ones today.

take care, MJC version 1.0
Forum moderator 2001-2010; He's a pedantic, pontificating, pretentious bastard, a belligerent old fart, a worthless st
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RE: Ramblings Of A Troubled IHadAPheo

Sat Jan 11, 2003 1:54 pm

I know exactly how you feel man. Being a vol. firefighter really wakes you up...Young male OD's, car accidents, fires, etc. It gets to you after a while, but we gotta keep truckin man, because this is a line of work that people don't want to do, yet we are very important.

Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Staten, Uptown, what now? Lets make it happen.
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RE: Ramblings Of A Troubled IHadAPheo

Sat Jan 11, 2003 2:08 pm

No need to apologize. I like to believe that we are all friends here, delusional am I not, and a few of us understand all too well.
I know that you did your best in both situations.
The day you stop learning is the day you should die.
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RE: Ramblings Of A Troubled IHadAPheo

Sat Jan 11, 2003 2:13 pm

Thanks all, for the kind words. The strange thing is I really do love the job, the more crazy and busy we are the more I love it, but sometimes the reality of what we do is just overwhelming (sp), it's is only later when I get home and look at my daughter and wifey that this stuff hits me. Even now that I have made the choice to step back from the chaos a bit I still will plan on picking up overtime as a Tech.

To be honest there is nothing quite like having a person come in full cardiac arrest and performing CPR on them, having them survive (it's rare but it does happen) and then going to visit them in the CCU and talk to them before they go home.

The death of the young man in the auto accident is troubling me since seeing how horrific his injuries were and how emotionally upset his family was, the sight of the family arriving not knowing their loved ones condition and then seeing them told that their loved one is dead will stay with me for quite a long time, this is especially true since the Doc's and paramedics say he would have lived if he had just worn his seat belt.

Again thanks for the thoughts and try to remember to wear your seat belt, trust me you don't want to see the results if you don't

Pray hard but pray with care For the tears that you are crying now Are just your answered prayers
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RE: Ramblings Of A Troubled IHadAPheo

Sat Jan 11, 2003 3:20 pm

I was very touched by this post. Even now I wonder if I would have the strength to do what you do, IH....I'm not sure I would.

Although I have no clue whatsoever that this horrible accident whose aftermath you dealt with had anything to do with this, I can tell you that that with the rise in popularity of crotch rockets and pimped out rice burners, the number of shredded and shattered young bodies being pulled out of twisted metal is growing. I find it kinda pathetic that legitimate gun owners are carefully regulated and in many cases made to jump through hoops, yet any fool kid with a credit card can put together a ten year old Honda Civic that could do WAY more damage than a Beretta. Yet to suggest that perhaps cars that can do 150 and bikes that can do 190 mph DONT belong on US public highways is tantamount to treason in some parts of this country. Oh well. It won't be the first blast of common sense that can't get through the stubborn American male psyche. It won't be the last.

But enough commentary. IH, I would simply give this advice; in the possible and sadly probable case that you are faced with this carnage again, I would simply say, and this is gonna sound hopelessly trite and cliche-ish but....afterward, think happy thoughts.Concentrate hard on that which is good in your life, your family, your hobbies. Corny, but did you see Raiders of the Lost Ark? Remember the last scene when the Ark is crated up and stored away in the vast cavern of nondescript wooden boxes? Well, that's kinda what you have to do with memories like this. Crate em up and bury them way in the back. The mere experience of the moment will bring you wisdom....no need to relive it. Box that thing up, nail it down, put a chain around it and store it in that one spot where few if any go, with a big "NOT TO BE OPENED" stencil on it.

Best of luck. And thanks for the good you do.

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RE: Ramblings Of A Troubled IHadAPheo

Sat Jan 11, 2003 10:15 pm


My stint in the hospital at 4 months was a little shorter than yours, at least until I actually get my MD  Big grin

I did see many things that would leave me a bit shocked for days on end, sometimes I do get some tears in my eyes when I think of some the patients I had met. There was the woman in her mid thirties dying of breast cancer who was the most upbeat and cheerful person I had ever met, Despite the fact she was dying as the cancer was spreading. The man who told me how excited he was about his grandkids and how happy he was to be able to watch them grow up, a man who survived a liver and heart transplant, and as we watched his CT scan come up and a biopsy later knew he was going to die because his liver was developing a malignant tumour. The man in the ICU who came in with stomach ulcers that had burst, slowly dying of infection, with the card from his 8 year old grandson hanging over his bed saying "Get well soon grandpa, I love you".

G-d, those always give me chills. While difficult to bear, they teach us the importance of that line of work just think that next time you go in, someone else will be able to go home to their family. The Jewish Talmud tells us If one saves a single life, it is as if one saved an entire world wise words when you think of the truth behind them. Take your break, cherish your family and loved ones, but as soon as your ready get right back into it.

I'll be there in a few years.
fuddle duddle
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RE: Ramblings Of A Troubled IHadAPheo

Sat Jan 11, 2003 10:38 pm

Tis ok, man. I kinda know what you mean, and the pain you are going through.

Whilst on Holiday this year, I saw some really bad things, things you shouldn't really see on a holiday, but there you go. I think the worst was when we had to say goodbye to our faithful driver and all our friends that we'd got to know so well after the past week, and just minutes after we had said goodbye, we drove past a car accident that hadn't long happened, killing 3 people and injuring alot more. The bad thing was the police hadn't arrived yet, and so the decapitated driver was still sitting in his seat in the truck and his passenger lying in various pieces on the floor.

Still, that doesn't compare with what you had to go through on Christmas day, I hope they pay you alot!!!

Dan  Smile
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RE: Ramblings Of A Troubled IHadAPheo

Sat Jan 11, 2003 11:01 pm

IHadAPheo, many people might disagree with my approach, but when faced with such situations, i.e., having to apply myself in situations that could potentially drain my emotions, etc., I become completely detached emotionally as well as from the outcome of the situation. This does not mean I don't care, rather that I do whatever I have to do with absolutey no emotional involvement. This also doesn't mean I'm cold, I just go in, do what I have to do as best as I can, while leaving my emotions and everything else checked at the door.

Believe me, it wasn't easy at first, but it works perfectly for me. This approach has enabled me to remain completely focused on the task at hand, given me remarkable clarity of thought, enabled shrewd reaction, the ability to undertake the most emotionally draining tasks and face the most emotionally demanding people while not having to sacrifice my own strength in the most chaotic and stressful circumstances.
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RE: Ramblings Of A Troubled IHadAPheo

Sat Jan 11, 2003 11:09 pm

This x-mas was the first one that I can remember where I didn't end up send out any aircraft on medivac flights.

Which was a nice change.

Seen way too many people coming in with injuries that could have been prevented with reduced excesses or a little common sense. I consider myself lucky that there is only one person that I know did within a couple of days of me helping get him off an airplane. There have been a couple of times where I have had to call center and tell them that they had to turn around because the patient expired. Not a good feeling. And a couple times they get there but there isn't anything to be done when they get there.

It is also not a good feeling to have to sit on a flight to some village because of weather. You know they try their best in the local clinics but they really need a full service hospital but if you launch chances are not only is your patient not going to make it to the hospital but chances are, the four people in the airplane going out might not either.

Still you end up having to cherish the people that you do know that make it. Like that guy who got his head cut off by a heading machine on a processor. I did the flight following. Took 24 hours to get him down to Seattle, but they where able to reattach it. I tried to find the link I had put up to the newspaper story but it isn't there.

When you know that you have helped, it is a pretty good feeling. Last Monday I had a Mercedes 300E do a somersault over a driveway in front of me. Everybody walked out of it, but I stuck around holding a towel to the head of one lady in the back who got it cut when a music stand in the back went flying. Ended up she didn't even need to get stitches which was good. But it felt good to help out. It was nice to know that 10 year old Army training came to some good!

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RE: Ramblings Of A Troubled IHadAPheo

Sat Jan 11, 2003 11:29 pm

Dude, i feel for you man. Although i have not had to prepare a familly for the loss of a loved one, or watch their anguish and i really cant compare my experiences with yours. How ever i have had my solemn moments. The one that really sticks with me is flying from germany one time we were bringing home a practically empty airplane that day and things were going as expected. when we got a call that we had some special cargo coming out to the plane, well we really didnt think anything of it except " Why the hell are they holding us up for some stupid pallets of household goods". But when the cargo arrived we all fell silent. Just one pallet standard size, with one item on it, A small casket case about 3 feet long. Man did that really hit home this giant aircraft flying back to the states with the most precious cargo. Its hard to describe how i felt but, it sticks with me alot.
"damn, I didnt know prince could Ball like that" - Charlie Murphy
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RE: Ramblings Of A Troubled IHadAPheo

Sat Jan 11, 2003 11:54 pm

My girlfriend works at a hospital, she works in cardiology and in the ER, its always tough to hear these kinds of stories.
Go big or go home
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RE: Ramblings Of A Troubled IHadAPheo

Sun Jan 12, 2003 6:57 am

I myself have seen a lot of suffering and Intensive Care units in these past few days because my mum has been treated at one here at Gozo General Hospital and then transferred to St Luke's in Malta, before leaving for abroad in the early hours of the morning. It certainly is terrible to see all those people suffer. While we were waiting for the team of doctors to arrive at St Luke's, I looked around at the patients there were and at the listing which was on the table. One particular case struck me as being the most sad. It was this 19-year-old young man who was lying motionless in his bed, the monitors above him showing a regular but very weak pulse rate. Every now and then, one of his devices would start bleeping, a nurse would come and make the adjustments and then go again. But perhaps the saddest part is the fact that according to the records he had been in the unit since 15th December. There was only one thought going through my mind as I looked at him: won't it be a terrible waste if such a young person dies?
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RE: Ramblings Of A Troubled IHadAPheo

Sun Jan 12, 2003 7:19 am

Its always tough to see someone die. Whether they are 80 or 18. Its rough especially when you see the family. But I wonder, should a person working in the hospital be jaded, and not flinch or when someone dies do they get real upset? My girlfriend worked 5 days this week and 6 people died. 3 while she was giving them CPR. I know it is rough for her, so I try to be there. I dont know what to say. I tell her it happends and there isnt anything she can do. But she shouldn't get too upset, because thats what she is going to do for a living, and chances are she will see 1,000 people die. So you cant get real upset because it happens too much.
Go big or go home
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RE: Ramblings Of A Troubled IHadAPheo

Mon Jan 13, 2003 11:37 am

Just a quick note of appreciation and support for what you do and who you are. It's folks like you who need to be appreciated more by the public. Thank you very much.
II Cor. 4:17-18
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RE: Ramblings Of A Troubled IHadAPheo

Mon Jan 13, 2003 2:34 pm

Believe me, I sympathize...

I was working as a chaplain at our local trauma center the Friday after Christmas and was with a family who had to take their 16 year old daughter off life support. It is not a pleasant thing no matter how you look at it.

Believe it or not, the fact this affects you is a good thing. The time to start worrying is when it stops affecting you, or you become numb or indifferent towards towards trauma and human suffering.

The important thing is to allow yourself to feel what you are feeling. Try not to hold it in or repress it. A good idea may be to talk to someone about what you are going through, say one of the chaplains at your hospital if you have not done so already. Moving "behind the glass" for a while is probably a good idea. It means your self-preservation instincts are kicking in; giving you space to process what has gone on without the constant new "input." Give yourself some time and move back into the ER when you feel you are ready.

People who work in ER are not as invincible as they like to think. The important thing is for people in this line of work to take care of themselves both physically and emotionally.

Hope this helps...

Charles, SJ
The customer isn't a moron, she is your wife -David Ogilvy

RE: Ramblings Of A Troubled IHadAPheo

Tue Jan 14, 2003 3:59 pm

its tough, but take solace in the fact that you perform honorable and noble work. Working in a hospital and taking care of those who are unable to take care of themselves is the best work in the world.

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