Wednesday, June 6, 2007

There's Something Wrong With This Picture

She's 99 years old. She's about 5 feet tall, and can't weigh more than 90 pounds. She lives alone and takes care of herself. Her medical history and medications are almost nonexistant. She hasn't been to the hospital since she had pneumonia in 1994. (That was 13 years ago, for those of you who are not mathematically inclined.)

She fell getting out of the bathtub tonight. She has an obviously shortened and rotated left leg. EMS said they could hear her screaming in pain from the front porch. The had to give her narcotics to move her, but they were concerned with how well she could handle the drugs. It took almost nothing to knock her out.

When we got her, she was wrapped in pillows and straps on the backboard, in as much of a position of comfort as they could get her. She was mostly unconscious, but she'd wake up and scream in pain, grabbing at her leg, every few minutes. Then she'd go back out.

It was horrible. There was nothing we could do. She was hypotensive, and when she went out, her sats dropped to 94% even with the supplemental O2. More pain meds could kill her. There was no way to position her to get her comfortable. We stood there looking at each other helplessly. All of us knew that she will probably die from this, either quickly, in surgery, or slowly, in the nursing home. It was sobering, to say the least.

And then, from the next bed, came a whiny voice. "Can't you make her be quiet? My head is killing me." One of our chronic "I have a migraine and nothing but Demerol and Dilaudid will make it go away" patients was being her usual impossible self. I have never wished for a Taser as much in my whole life as I did at that moment.

6 comments:

Birdwell said...

OMG! I'd totally slap that whiny snot. Good thing I'm not a nurse. For the record, when I had my "mind tearing I need to go to the ER/UC" migraine, I could barely talk myself never mind have the energy to complain about anything. Jeez.

Mark said...

Would it be wrong to Jap Slap the individual in question?


Mark

Ambulance Driver said...

If you're well enough to complain about the room temperature/waiting time/other patients...

...you are well enough to take your malingering ass home.

"This is not a restaurant, Ma'am. I'm sorry the sick lady in the next bed is ruining the ambiance for you. Perhaps you would be more comfortable in a nice quiet cab."

radioactive girl said...

You would think if the person was in so much pain, she might feel a bit of sympathy for someone so obviously hurting. That is sad and also why I could never do what you do. I just couldn't take it.

William the Coroner said...

I think dope slap therapy was indicated for the migraneur. I also think anesthesia was indicated for the woman in pain. You gotta do something. Tube and sedate. Yeah, weaning's gonna be a bitch, but unrelieved pain for that long could also kill her.

GuitarGirlRN said...

Oh. my. god. The exact same thing happened tonight to me. A man having a heart attack was moaning and very worried about his family finding him, and nothing we were doing was helping him. Meanwhile the AOB drunkie neighbor sleeping it off in the next bed kept yelling, "SHUT THE F@#$ UP!!!" The heart attack guy was up to the cath lab within 30 mins and I don't think anyone went near the drunkie for the next four hours except for the paramedic students who we armed with #16 gauge IV catheters and told them to go start some lines and give him some fluids. Hee hee hee...