The Delightful Way

Emotional Drama
February 16, 2007, 3:50 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

The last few weeks I have been doing clinical ride outs as part of my Paramedic course. These involve going on either an ambulance or in the hospital and gaining field experience in skills and in dealing with real human patients.
I've seen and dealt with some pretty amazing stuff–I've seen car wrecks where the guy would have died if it weren't for the skilled intervention of a surgeon; I've seen clinically dead patients in cardiac arrest come back; I've seen sick people healed—I've even saved some lives. All pretty cool experiences.
A lot of people hear I am doing paramedics tend to freak out about the trauma side of things. FOr me, I've seen some nasty trauma–I've seen, touched, dealt with real live trauma that makes Saving Private Ryan and Blackhawk Down look like children's movies. Pretty nasty; however it doesn't seem to affect me.
What does affect me, though, is the human side of medicine…sick people, worried people, and so on. Like the 45 year old lady (I could've sworn she was younger) who grabbed my hand and looked me in the eyes and told me how scared she was. Prior to a surgery a year ago, she had never been in a hospital, never had an IV, never had any medical problems. All of a sudden, she was having some fairly major complications to a surgery. She was so sweet–put on a face and was trying to make light of it to the medics who brought her in, but when they left, and it was just me and her, she was very scared. What could I say? What can you say? It's not "just
fine." She might not "get better." The doctors might not be able to "fix it." How could I allay her fears? What could I possibly say? I only was able to agree, to say something like "This is really difficult, isn't it. We will take the best care we can of you." But for me, the hotshot healthcare provider, it is very difficult. Tears me up inside.
Then there was an elderly woman who came in in cardiac arrest and was shortly afterwards pronounced dead by the doctor. When you work a code, it is very busy. The room is full of people and procedures. Somebody is bagging, someone is doing CPR, others are cutting off clothes, still others attaching monitor stickers and starting IVs and giving drugs. The doctor kind of floats around, giving orders, directing people, like a conductor leading an orchestra. Now
and then he'll dart in to do some advanced procedure like starting a central line or using the ultrasound machine to look at the heart. Your adrenaline gets going, and even though the pt. is clinically dead, you desperately want to bring her back. Its happened, I've seen them come back. That is a great feeling. But this patient wasn't coming back. After a brief few minutes that
seemed like an hour, the doctor took one more look and called the code. "Time of death, 10:35," and then he left to inform the family (surely the worst job of all). Meanwhile, people trickle out of the room, somewhat disappointed, somewhat relieved, all returning to their previous tasks or positions. Finally, it was only me and the nurse left. We cleaned the patient up, got her looking presentable for the family, and printed off the flat-line strips. Emotionally, that is very rough. This is the first person I've seen die in over a year. It is rough because we've worked so many codes in the last few weeks and seen them all come back. To not get one is very difficult.
One of the most difficult experiences during clinicals was helping a doctor reduce a severely dislocated shoulder. I have never seen that much pain and hope I never seen it again. Witnessing that made me physically weak.
It is difficult to see the heart side of the patients—more than just having physiological problems, they have emotional and psychiatric and spiritual problems as well. I've grown accustomed to seeing blood and guts and gore–it doesn't phase me at all. Although I dislike it, I can take the smells and the sights. But seeing the "emotional trauma" is much more difficult. I doubt I can become jaded to it (few people are), and I know it I'll only see more of it. And unlike the blood and guts, the emotional impact stays with me. I can't forget about it, or leave it "at work." I get back to the dorm, back to "normal" life (whatever that is…) and the heavy feeling is still there.
This is a side of medicine I wasn't prepared for. But, I trust, God will help me through this.
I appreciate your prayers as I continue to learn how to save people's physical lives.
– Samuel Kordik


1 Comment so far
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Thanks Kordik! 😉


Comment by Jordan Greene

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