My adventures as a pre-med college student volunteering in the ER and trying to hold my own as an EMT student.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Wheelchair turned racecar

Finally, nice patients! My faith in humanity has been somewhat restored after all the appreciative people we had tonight. After a busy, depressing weekend last Friday, this week was steady but not chaotic. I was constantly transporting people to radiology, making beds, or chatting with the nurses. Everybody seemed to be a good mood, nice patients equals nice nurses! I also brought in homemade muffins for everyone, the over-night staff always appreciates something to munch on at three in the morning.

The one downer of the night was an older man, he was ninety years old, born July 4th, 1920. Nobody knew if there was actually anything wrong with him but they sent him to CT just to check.  He was very cold (it's freezing in there) and kept asking for more blankets. I tried to make him as comfy as possible and he looked content on the way to the CT test. The radiologist there that night was by herself and since the man couldn't slide from his bed to the testing bed, Katie and I helped her move him. As soon as we lifted him he started moaning in pain. It was a smooth transition, he was just older and couldn't manage much sudden movement. I tried to awkwardly smile and reassure him that the test would be fast and painless. Poor guy, for the next few minutes I watched this little frail man going through the CT machine and all I could do is ponder on the type of life he had led. He had once been a young boy full of life. I wondered what he was like back then. Was he was a wild man that lived on the edge? Did he ever have a family of his own? Did he ever think he would be an old man unable to sit up in a hospital bed without any family in sight? He made me sad, not because he was in any pain or had some sort of disease, just because he was old and frail and that wasn't fair. It's not fair to grow old. I made sure to visit him on the way out. I don't know if he even knew I was there but I gave him a little pat on the arm just in case.

After having said all of that, I don't feel like my calling in life is to work at a nursing home for a living. God bless those who do, but I just couldn't handle it. I feel like it's much easier for me to communicate with children, and so right now my focus is in pediatrics for my future career. When I started college my dream was to be an early education teacher. After working at a daycare for nearly two years, I realized that I did not want to be disciplining three-year-old children for the rest of my life. I did realize, however, that I had a way of calming down sick kids. When someone fell off the monkey bars, I was the first to soothe them and stop the tears. When more serious things happened (one child fell off the swings and broke their arm), I remained calm and kept smiling as to not panic the kid. While somebody dialed 911, I held the boy and made sure his arm didn't move. This is when I found my gift of communicating with children, and found my interest in making sick children feel better. I shifted my focus from teaching to medicine, so far, I am very happy with that decision.

Tonight in the ER, a little boy was brought in by a family friend that was watching him for the night. He was worried when the boy's cough turned from a small "ahem" to a deep hacking. The doc ordered an x-ray to see if there was fluid in his lungs. I went to transport him to radiation, and he was scared to death of me. He refused to get out of bed, and covered his head with a spider man blanket. I smiled, and somehow convinced him that the wheelchair was pretty much the same thing as a race car, and that we were going to take awesome pictures of his tummy. He thought that sounded neat, so he reluctantly climbed up in the chair and I wheeled him over to radiation, asking him about his favorite action heroes along the way. By the time the tests were done, he was all smiles, and showed off his new collection of Disney stickers to the nurses we passed on the way back to his room. I later found out that he didn't have pneumonia and left with directions to get some children's cough medicine. He was my favorite patient of the night!

As the clock stroke midnight, Katie and I decided it was probably time to go. We were tired and getting giggly. We were getting so silly over nothing, I'm sure some of the nurses were rolling their eyes at us. Oh well, we left and may come back next weekend for a later shift. Midnight until 4 AM? I'm going to check with the volunteer coordinator to see if it's allowed, but I don't see why not. The nurse's say things get interesting at around 2, so we shall see!

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