Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Not Paris.

When I arrived she was leaning over the bed, face blue as she gasped for breath. My entrance shepherded by the others called by the emergency page for a young woman who couldn't breathe. The mask went on, the lines went in, like a well greased machine and the clothes were ripped from her chest so that we could stick on the leads for the defibrillator. I was there when she stopped breathing, and it was my hands on her chest as the ECG showed a flat line. Her ribs far springier than any others I'd ever felt, because she was at least 40 years younger than anyone else whose chest I had compressed, the beat of Staying Alive dancing irreverently through my head as I counted 30 - two pumps on the mask. Adrenaline, atropine, bicarbonate, magnesium. My fingers on the cricoid as the ETT went click click click beneath them.

Mobile radiographer arrives, chest compressions continue. There's a rhythm - now it's gone. Tiny pulse, now no output. That smell. That death smell. Pumping on the chest, arms tired, swap with someone else. Keep pumping, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 40 minutes. Infusion. ABG. Acidotic. Pupils fixed. Compressions cease. 38 years old. Curtains now closed and everything left, just a blanket drawn up. Phone calls in the middle of the night. 

Feel pointless. Wonder if she will get bruises from the futile weight of my arms and hands on her chest. Detach. Sit on the ward and read through her chart, search for an answer for why it all went wrong. Listen to the call to the coroner. Lean back for a bit. Feel morose, feel reminded of all the people who wonder why I do this job and if I agree with them. Shake myself, answer more calls, forget her name and feel guilty about it. It's on a sticker somewhere. 

2 comments:

hissychick said...

Oh Jenn :(

(and now I also understand why my terminally I'll grandmother signed her DNR papers on Sunday)

Melissa said...

Oh Jenn. <3 But you tried. For 30 or 40 minutes you tried. That's not nothing.

I hope you get an answer. I hope you find out why she died. I hope her family gets an answer.

If it were my family, I would want to thank you for trying so hard.

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