Things are not always as they seem...

"So I have sixteen pages of notes that I can't understand, and the only thing I clearly remember from class was a reference to a water molecule resembling a legendary cartoon character." I close my notebook and shove it behind the passenger seat, and instead choose to reread the chapter out of my book.

"Dispaaaatch to Unit XX" The radio has been silent for the last 45 minutes... Sleepy Partner (Welcome Back SB!!! Even if it's only for the day!) is studying for the GRE while I close my book and grab the mic.

Epi: "Unit XX, go ahead"
Dispatch: "Unit XX, head on over to Suburbia Nursing Home for a 1430 pickup... Heading to a Doctor's Appointment in Outer Suburbia."
Epi: "Unit XX is clear on Suburbia Nursing Home, put us enroute."
Dispatch: "Gotcha' Enroute Unit XX. 13:55."

Sleepy Partner puts his study book down and rubs his tired eyes. I yawn. "I know, SP... I was just thinking about a nap myself."

I pull the truck out of the parking lot where we've been posted and head towards the ECF where our patient is. It's only two minutes up the road. Sleepy Partner is already reaching for gloves. He hands me a purple pair.

Sleepy: "Where is the office we're going to?" He scratches his head as he examines the map book.
Epi: "Over in Outer Suburbia."
Sleepy: "I get that. WHERE in Outer Suburbia? The street isn't in here... And how come Outer Suburbia isn't next to Suburbia? I mean wouldn't that make sense?"

Wait a second, I think... When exactly did Sleepy Partner learn how to use a map book?
Sometimes I don't have all the answers. Most times, in fact. I decide to consult a higher power (at least in their own minds).

I pick up my trusty little pink phone and call the ones who will certainly know. DISPATCH! My HEROES!!! Please enlighten us!!! SHOW US THE WAY!

Dispatch: "Well, Epi... According to the map program the street should be 186 yards east of Suburbia Hospital."
Epi: "Well, let me get out my yardstick."
Dispatch: "You're not funny you know."
Epi: "Maybe not, but I'm cute. That makes up for it, right? By the way, you can put us on location. "
Dispatch: (Laughing out loud) Gotcha on. Call if you have a problem finding the office.
Epi: No worries, I have my yardstick.

It's a beautiful day to be outside. The sky is an amazing brilliant Carolina Blue (yes, Carolina Blue does in fact exist outside of the great state of North Carolina!) and there are huge white fluffy clouds scattered across it. It's one of those days that Bob Ross used to paint. Sleepy Partner and I joke with each other as we can't help but be in a good mood. We walk the cot into the building. We're still giggling as we approach our patients room.

I knock on the half opened door. "Miss Jones? We're here to take you to your appointment..." A nurse walks past us and into the room, pushing the door open and exposing our patient to us.

Sleepy Partner: (whispering) "Oh... wow."

My jaw drops. Our patient has the single worst case of necrosis I've ever seen. What the ECF told us was a case of simple PVD is a gross understatement. Well, PVD is a given. Gangrene was not what I expected.

This is getting close to what her feet looked like. The black portion ran all the way up to her knees.

Our patient was on the phone and thankfully oblivious to our reactions. The two of us managed to summon some professionalism in the meantime. Our patient puts the phone down and looks at the nurse. "I am not going anywhere until someone tells me what's going on."

Fair enough.

"You know what's going on, you have a Doctor's appointment, " The Nurse starts to explain. She hands Sleepy Partner the packet of paperwork that accompanies the patient to the appointment.

He quickly flips through it. "It's a wound care appointment, Ma'am, with Doctor Decubitus."

Our patient starts crying. "No one ever tells me anything, I don't know what's going on... "

Her Nurse is getting aggitated. She turns to me, "She does this EVERY SINGLE time she has a doctors appointment. She does this EVERY SINGLE TIME I have to give her drugs." She throws her hands in the air, clearly frustrated she leaves the room.

I know this nurse. She's overworked and stressed out. She's not a bad nurse, but she's clearly having a bad day. I understand that.

My eyes keep going back to her legs. Signs hang on ever wall in the room reminding the staff and visitors that she is to have no pressure on either leg.

For a few moments the only sound in the room is our patient crying. My heart breaks for her. I step up to her bed and place my gloved hands on the rail to her bed.

"Ma'am..." I look her directly in the eyes and wait for her to respond.

She chokes back her tears and nods.

"Ma'am... I'm sorry that no one told you about the appointment." I keep my voice low and calm. "You really need to see this Doctor," I motion towards her legs.

"Why does he want to see me? I don't even know who made this appointment!" she argues.

Sleepy Partner decides to try. He shows her the letter from the doctor's office outlining the need for the appointment and asking for confirmation. He shows her the date and the time and the doctor's signature. He motions towards her legs and hands her a tissue. He pleads with her to go to the appointment.

She finally nods and agrees to go.

Sleepy Partner has grown as an EMT since I last worked with him. He's proof that being an EMT, a good EMT, is more than working well under pressure. It's not just saving lives. At its purest level it's about helping people. A lot of the time it is helping them when they don't even realize they need the help.

I'm so impressed Sleepy Partner. Go take a nap, you've earned it with no teasing from me.

2 comments:

Evil Lunch Lady said...

You just described my mother-in-law. (R.I.P.). She didn't have the leg issues, but she acted the same way. I always wished if I ever get like that, hand me a gun:(

John McElveen said...

It's SC Blue down here. NC is a little more cornflower blue! I have no idea what the hell that means, but between the two states there are the most magnificent blue sky's you have ever seen. I think it's that Bermuda high that sits off the coast---wait...maybe it's because I used to be high and sit off the coast? Anyway- it's purtty!
Glad I finally made it over to chat. Work and school killing me, but things are looking up.

Pray all is well! Break a leg in school and don't let them change you into one of the god ol Boys/Gals! Keep it real.

Pulling for ya,

Always,

John

Don't make me pull out my ruler!!