Hey David, this one is for you.
Yeah, school was canceled that day :)
I got my first denial from Cigna about a week after my consultation.
The staff at BTC had warned me about it. "Everyone gets denied the first time. Be prepared for it."
I wasn't. I had read and reread my health insurance policy. It stated that the procedure would be approved if my BMI was over 40, or over 35 with a comorbidity.
Mine was 43.8. AND I had hypertension, which counted as a comorbidity.
To their credit, Cigna spelled out exactly what it would take to get an approval. I was not above jumping through their hoops. I was determined.
So when I left you yesterday I was telling you how desperate I was.
I wish I could post a picture of myself at this point, but to be completely honest, I just can't bring myself to do it. It was bad, folks.
I'm a tall girl, I had that in my favor. But even at 6'1”, 330 lbs is... Well, it's big. I remember watching a football game and realizing that I outweighed a lot of them.
So I found myself in the offices at Bariatric Treatment Centers in Ypsilanti, Michigan (now called Barix, the name just hasn't stuck with me yet). I was going to meet my potential surgeon, Dr. P. I was nervous, and rightfully so. I was preparing to hear how someone was going to cut me open and rearrange my insides. The only thing that calmed me was realizing that I didn't fill the double-wide chairs that furnished the room.
I know how ridiculous and pitiful that sounds.
“Epi?” A nurse was hailing me from the receptionists desk.
I inhaled and stood from the double-wide wooden chair. It let out a sigh of relief when I got up
“Welcome, Epi... How are you doing today?” The Nurse was warm and inviting. She squeezed my arm as she led me into an exam room.
“I'm pretty much terrified.”
"There's nothing to be afraid of...Here, let's get a quick weight on you first...”
Oh for the love of Christ.
Nothing knocks the last shred of denial out of a potential patient quicker than facing what they hate the most. The dreaded scale. I kicked my shoes off and emptied my pockets out. I stepped on the scale and looked away.
How in the hell did I get to this point?
“How about we get your BP while we're at it? Hey, Epi, are you okay?”
Tears were stinging my eyes. I couldn't force myself to speak at that moment.
“Epi... I was where you are right now. I was there two years ago. I know how you feel.”
All I could do was nod my head. I'm not sure I've ever been as embarrassed as I was at that very point. I had put on close to 100 pounds in less than three years.
I could expect to lose approximately 70% of my excess weight.
Now I've never been great at math, but that worked for me. I was sold.
“Not so fast... There are risks....”
Staple Failure (basically a leak after surgery which is potentially fatal).
Okay, so I could die during surgery. I could die right after surgery. I could end up screwed up royally through nutritional deficiencies (B-12, Iron, Calcium...). Here, I thought this was the “easy way out...”.
The potential to be a better parent, a better wife, and a happier person in general won out.
There was one thing that was clear. I wasn't going to be able to do this on my own. The cards were stacked against me. When you weighed what I did the chances of taking off the weight that I needed to take off, on my own without surgery, was less than 10%. It just wasn't going to happen.
“Okay... If we're going to move forward, there's a few things you're going to need to do,” Dr. P. told me. “You're going to need a Psychiatric evaluation. You're going to need to prove to your insurance company that you've made attempts to lose weight through non-surgical means for at least six months, and you're going to need a sleep study.”
“Fantastic, Doc. I'll get on that immediately.”
“Yes, Doctor P?”
“Are you sure this is what you want to do? Why don't you go home and talk to your family about this? This is a life changing surgery you're about to have.”
"I understand Doc... I've talked to my family and they're completely supportive. My husband is a little nervous about the whole thing, but he's quickly coming around. I'm ready to get this show on the road..."
I was a different person in many ways. Five years ago my life changed. I was approved for Gastric Bypass Surgery.
Five years ago I was in the middle of what I considered a fight for my life. I was fat. I was depressed. And I was sick.
And I had no one to blame by myself.
My son was all of three years old and I could NOT chase him around. Even worse was the constant exhaustion. I had a hard time getting my big ass off the couch or out of bed to play with him. The easiest tasks wiped me out. Taking my son to the park. Cleaning the house. Living.
I blame no one but myself. Not genes, not some medication or disease process that was causing me to gain weight. It was all me. I was guilty of loving all things sweet and salty, in mass quantities.
Pint of Ben and Jerry's Wavy Gravy? Check
Bag of Doritos? Check.
2-liter(s) of Mountain Dew? Check Check.
It was a visit to my physician that clinched it for me. On the billing sheet I was handing in to the check out clerk were two scribbled words that changed my life.
Morbid Obesity? As in... I'm so fat it's going to kill me?
I mean... I knew I had been shopping at Lane Bryant more and more over the previous few years, but to say that I was going to die because of I was fat... Jesus. Are you kidding?
He wasn't kidding. My blood pressure was sky high. I was a borderline diabetic. I found out rather quickly that my snoring and constant exhaustion was due to sleep apnea. I was a heart attack waiting to happen.
If I was to be the Mother that I truly wanted to be, if I was going to be the Wife I had been and wanted to be again... I had to make some changes. I had to make them now.
I joined Weight Watchers one last time. I lost 32 pounds in a little over a month and got the 10% keychain. I thought that finally... FINALLY I was rocking this weight loss thing. I was doing it! Surely I don't need to spend that 15 bucks a week on meetings, right?
I quit the meetings and the weight came right back. Jesus, I had ZERO will power. There's nothing more depressing than realizing that you are weak.
That was the last straw. It was time to do something a little more drastic. A commercial for Bariatric Treatment Center came on the TV.
Gastric Bypass Surgery.
I had a long battle ahead of me. My insurance company wasn't exactly keen on the idea of approving something that was going to cost them over 90K when all was said and done.
Thinking back, I can't blame them. At the time I believed it was something I was entitled to. I jumped through their hoops. Every single one of them. At the time I believed this was my last chance at regaining some normalcy in my life. I was desperate.
I *heart* Bass Pro
Seriously. How could you NOT love a place that sells these:
Yes folks, those are bloomer bottoms for a baby. I've never wanted another baby girl so badly in my life.
And then there's this. The perfect accessory to anyone's... Uhm... I'm not sure where I'd put it, but I *MUST* have one.
The place is awesome. I loved the entranceway...
(Prologue: A few weeks ago someone emailed me and asked that I write about the time my partner saved my life. Here you go Gwendolyn :)
Here, for your reading pleasure...
Today I managed to slice my hand open and simultaneously expose myself to grease, sweat, and countless diseases. Some are resistant to antibiotics, some not so much.
Today my Partner for the day offered to call in Lifeflight for the aforementioned cut while also telling me how Not hardcore I am.
Today I watched my partner for the day, and learned something about building a relationship with my patient. I was impressed.
Today we were called to the Home Office to talk to the EMS Director. My heart rate reached the level where adenosine would be appropriate.
Today I exhaled a very large sigh of relief when I learned it wasn't me that the EMS Director wanted to talk to. Sorry about being so giddy about that, Partner for the day.
Today I noticed that Partner for the day not only held doors for me, but also offered his hand when I it was my turn to climb out of the back of the squad.
Today I thanked him repeatedly. And he noticed.
Today I washed our squad with a weeks worth of dead bugs stuck to the front of it. And I sprayed myself in the face when I attempted to drench Partner for the Day. This supplied him with endless amusement.
Today I might have then lost my damn mind and turned the hose on him anyway for laughing.
Today Partner for the day decided to be patient.... before soaking me from head to toe with another hose.
Thank you, Partner for the Day.
I didn't save a life. I'm not even sure I made a difference in someone's life. But it was a good day regardless.
Today was a good day.
Posted by Epijunky at 7/25/2008 11:54:00 PM
Epi: "I'm in desperate need of material, Matt. I mean... I'm trolling myself to see if there's a draft somewhere I forgot about. I'm on empty."
Matty: Have you considered going to bed?
Epi: Not even for a second.
Matty: Alright. Talk about what you know, then.
Epi: You want me to talk about dirty diapers and disappointment?
Matty: LOL yet ANOTHER great book title. You really need to find a publisher.
Epi: You're a lot of help ya know. I'm totally sticking my tongue out at you.
Matty: Or how about a blog about how you straighten your curly hair every day? Or you could ponder the benefits of raisin colored lip balms versus pink? Pink! There you are, you could do an entire post on why you love pink.
Epi: I hate you.
Matty: No you don't. You love me.
Epi: No. Clearly you're out of your mind.
Matty: I love you. Come on, admit it, you might like me a little bit. Maybe just a little bit???
Epi: Leave me alone. I am busy and important.
Matty: Okay, so write about how you're busy and important!
Epi: LMAO You're on crack, Matt.
Matty: I knew you loved me!
Posted by Epijunky at 7/24/2008 10:43:00 PM
Here's Part One...
The sun is out.
Not one of those days where it beats down on the truck all day and we go home with one-armed sunburns, thank God. Instead we're blessed with 80 degrees and a constant breeze. Nature's air conditioner.
"We need a frisbee, McHottie." He grunts, not even opening his eyes. He's using a book as a pillow.
I should try that. I can't get comfortable in the front of the truck. I've padded the voids with bath blankets... I've shifted positions countless times. I hate not having a station to go home to when we have down time. We're posted in a parking lot on the side of a book store. We're hiding.
"Unit 120, One-Two-Oh..."
I reach for the mic. "One Twenty, go."
"You have a One pm pick up from a private residence on Hudson, going to Ortho Clinic at Our Lady of the Spiral Fracture. Time out, 1230."
"One Twenty is clear and enroute." I set the mic down and look at McHottie with an insane grin on my face.
"What are you smiling about Epi?" He's rubbing his eyes as he shifts the truck into drive.
"We're going to get Emily."
I pause long enough to answer her. I wish I could stay and play with their Barbie dolls.
“Come on Epi, We're running a little late.” McHottie gently prods me with the cot.
“What, you don't want to stay and play with dolls? Don't lie now.”
He rolls his eyes at me. I'm getting used to his violent eye rolls. Apparently I have this effect on my partners.
The house is warm. There are fans set up everywhere. Emily is laying in her bed in the livingroom. SpongeBob is on. Emily LOVES SpongeBob.
“Well HEY there, Princess, how are you?” McHottie's face lights up at the sight of her. We really do love this kid.
“I know you!” She squeals in the cutest eight year old voice known to man. She's clearly psyched to see McHottie. “And YOU! I know you too!”
“Yep, remember? I'm McHottie and this is Epi... She's going to be in back with you today, is that okay?”
“Oh Yes. Yes Yes YES!”
“Emily, will you finally let me sign that cast?”
We make small talk with Emily and her Mother while we we untuck her sheets and move her over to our stretcher. She's impressed that I have seen the episode of SpongeBob that's on. SpongeBob has just gotten canned for his addiction to karate.
I lean down and whisper a secret in her ear. “Hey, Emily? I'm not really a grownup. I'm really nine years old. Don't tell anyone okay?” Her brown eyes are huge. She puts a finger over her lips and nods her head.
"What's that? Is that what you use to listen to someone's heart? What's in there?" Emily is non-stop questions.
"That is what we call suction. When I turn it on it gets really loud and makes this slurping noise." I make the sound of slurping the last ounce of soda out of that McDonalds cup.
Emily starts giggling. The giggling turns into a belly laugh when I stick my tongue out at her.
"You have a lot of stuff back here, don't you?"
I've given up on filling out my Patient Care Report and shove it under the head of the stretcher. She's laying there in a full body cast with names scribbled across it. From what I can see it's the ENTIRE staff in Peds at Toledo Hospital. There are several coworker's names on it as well.
"Yes, we do. We use it to help people."
"You save a lot of lives, don't you." It's not a question, it's a statement. Emily's eyes focus on mine. She's in awe of me. I don't want to disappoint her, but I don't want to lie to her either.
"Emily, we work hard to help as many people as we can." It's the best I can do.
Her smile grows. "You guys are like superheroes, aren't you?" Again, a statement. Not a question.
My heart melts. "Baby, we do our best."
McHottie yells from the front of the truck. "Tell her we can't be superheroes because we don't have capes. Tell he she has to make us a few capes."
I relay the message and Emily laughs again.
"Will you sign my cast?"
"I'd be honored to." I remove a sharpie from my pocket and sign it.
To the bravest girl I know. We *heart* you. Epi
We dropped Emily and her Mother off at the Ortho Clinic. They had a bed for her so we couldn't justify waiting for her. The boards were insane that day, and dispatch had two runs lined up for us after Emily's.
As we were getting ready to leave I found out that they were going to be removing Emily's cast that day. She was going to be free. I never did find out why she was in the cast, all I know is that she has Cerebral Palsy and that she was going to be spending eight weeks in that cast. Her Mother was very young and didn't understand a lot of the medical jargon being lobbed her way. The facility supplied us with even less information.
We keep hoping to get paged to a run from her house for some appointment, but that run hasn't come yet.
I'm both grateful and a little sad about it.
I miss her, you see. She's one of the reasons why I do the job I do.
Posted by Epijunky at 7/24/2008 12:45:00 PM
I'm so tired that I can't see straight. My 32-year-old body is rebelling against me. My back has hurt for the last three weeks. The glands in my neck are swollen to the size of ping pong balls. My voice is gone. I'm sure I'm running a fever but I have no idea where the thermometer is. I'm simultaneously wracked by chills and the sensation of being entirely too warm. I've been fighting off the plague for the last two days.
I'm losing the fight.
Work is wearing me thin. There's more than a few posts there, but I just can't bring myself to do it right now.
I have two friends who I'm so worried about I'm having a hard time sleeping. When my cousin took my BP tonight it was 212/110. And since my gastric bypass I very rarely run higher than 110/74.
There is so much drama in my life now that I could write my own self help book five times over.
All of that being said, I am ridiculously blessed.
I am loved.
I am so loved.
I love you.
(Quick Edit: To the Anon commenter. I know who you are dipshit. Screw you you worthless piece of shit. I'll make Satan look like a girlscout.)
Posted by Epijunky at 7/23/2008 09:58:00 PM
WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? God no. My middle name was issued to most of the girls in my neighborhood between the years of 1973-1976, however.
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? Last night. But I'm going to blame it on being physically and emotionally fried.
DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? My penmanship is stellar. I owe that to my mother making me rewrite my homework just about every night between second and fourth grade. Thanks to Mom the EMS Captain where I'm employed can actually read someone's run reports.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT? Roast Beef, hands down.
DO YOU HAVE KIDS? Two. Boy and a girl, eight and three years old. For some reason I've been reading Parenting magazine lately... Maybe I wouldn't mind one more.
IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? Yes. I am a dedicated friend. I'm honest, and I'll go to war for you if need be.
DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? *Blank stare* Surely you jest.
DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? Tonsils are gone. So is my gall bladder and my appendix. And 3/4's of my stomach.
WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? In a heartbeat. Sign me up.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Strawberry Yogurt Cheerios. They're like a desert.
DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? Depends on what shoes I'm wearing. Work boots, yes. Tennis shoes, yes. Sandals, crocs and my chucks? No.
DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? I never thought I was until I started at my current employer. We had (up until recently) a contract at a nursing home where the minimum weight was 400 lbs. My arms definitely developed a bit after a few months of runs out to that facility. I would say that there's one woman where I work who is stronger than I am.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? Oh GOD I miss ice cream. Since I had the Gastric Bypass I'm pretty much limited to a lick or two off my kids cones. The flavor doesn't matter so much anymore. Pre-Gastric Bypass I would have to say Peanut Butter and Chocolate from Baskin Robbins.
WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE? In a man, their eyes. Then their laugh. I love to laugh.
WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? The difficulty I have with leaving work at work. I hope to overcome that soon, I'm working hard on it.
WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? My Grandmother. She died ten years ago this year, and every time I pass the hospital room she was in when she passed I start to cry.
WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? I'm wearing pink red and white plaid flannel pj shorts and no socks or shoes. It's the middle of summer, ya know :)
WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? Crappy Thai food about nine hours ago.
WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? Well, Deadliest Catch is on Discovery, and I can hear it, but I'm not really paying attention.
IF YOU WHERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? Pink. I'm girly like that :)
FAVORITE SMELLS? Fresh cut grass. Roses. Suntan lotion. The smell right before it rains. Lilacs.
WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? Matt. *waves*
FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? College Football (GO BLUE!), followed by college basketball (GO DUKE!). That should make me popular :)
HAIR COLOR[S]? Reddish/blondish/brownish. Truthfully, I'm not sure what to label it as.
EYE COLOR? Brown, naturally.
DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? I'm blind as a bat without them (to the tune of 20/400 vision uncorrected.) Tomorrow I think I'll be wearing my librarian glasses.
FAVORITE FOOD? Steak. Bloody. Maybe some mushrooms on top. Hey, I'm anemic. I need some iron :)
SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? Normally scary movies. Considering the fact that I have 30 Days of Night sitting on my desk for the last month, unwatched because I'm too afraid to watch it alone, I'm going to go with happy endings for this one.
LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? Anchorman. I LOVED it.
WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? It's a black LifeFlight t-shirt. This shirt, 15 hours of CEU's and a nasty hangover are what I came home with from the last Partners For Life EMS conference. Which reminds me that I really need to sign up for my next Buddy Flight.
SUMMER OR WINTER? Summer for the weather, Winter for the holidays. I can't STAND the cold weather. My entire body hurts for almost four months a year and I'm constantly telling folks that I was born in the wrong climate. At the same time the months of November and December are my favorites. I love the holidays.
HUGS OR KISSES? That's a tough one. My kids give some of the best hugs EVER. My Partner gives great hugs when I'm having a rough day. At the same time there's something to be said for a hungry, firm, passionate kiss. A kiss that takes your breath away. A kiss that makes your knees shake.
FAVORITE DESSERT? My idea of a desert and the general publics are probably a little different. I can't have sugar like I used to. So for now it's the sugar free yogurt cones from that place in Swanton. And Grapenuts Granola. That's some good stuff :)
MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND? Shoot, I'm not tagging anyone, so I doubt anyone will respond.
WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? A free mousepad from the local computer shop where I bought the parts for my last several computers.
WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON T.V. LAST NIGHT? Intervention on A and E.
FAVORITE SOUND[S]? Either one of my kids laughing. There's something about hearing your kids laugh, really laugh...
ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES? If I had to pick I'd say Beatles, but I'm not a huge fan of either.
WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME? Seattle, Washington. Coincidentally the most beautiful place I've ever had the pleasure of visiting, twice.
DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? I'm pretty decent with a camera I guess.... I can play a mean version of "Dead Or Alive" by Bon Jovi on air guitar :)
WHERE WERE YOU BORN? THE Toledo Hospital in Toledo, Ohio. The happiest place on earth.
(Slight edit: Apparently I posted the wrong draft. Some slight changes towards the end, my apologies)
This post is a contribution, although late, once again, to Normal Sinus Rhythm. A collaborative writing project by EMS bloggers all over the country. Please visit them if you get a chance!
"This might be the best taco I've ever had." Marine Corp Medic crams the remains of said taco down his gullet. I'm not even sure he chewed it. He inhaled it.
God he's hot.
I picked up a shift working with a Medic for 24 hours. It's a welcomed change from working at the Closet, and while I adore Pseudo Dad, the snoring is a bit much sometimes. Last shift I contemplated suffocating him with one of those plastic covered hospital pillows. If the lack of oxygen doesn't do him in, maybe one of the diseases on the pillow will.
A girl needs her sleep ya know.
"So, Marine Corp, tell me. What exactly is that contraption you have strapped to your belt?" It looks like the Galls catalog vomited on him. It looks like a pair of trauma sheers/seatbelt cutter/window punch/scalpel/maglight/corkscrew/vanity mirror/hunting rifle. It's deliciously wankerish, yet fantastic at the same time.
He hands it to me so I can play with it. "It's beautiful," I start, fighting back the giggles.
Marine Corp Medic is not amused with my ribbing. He mumbles something about it being lucky and issued to him by the Corp.
"No, no, I understand." I snort out loud before losing it completely. "If I ever need to open a bottle of wine and perform surgery in the dark I'll know who to call."
"Epi, give it back."
"Can't I just hold it awhile longer?"
"No, you can't. Give it." His hand is outstretched palm up. I stick my bottom lip out and give him the mammoth five pound Galls Special back.
Marine Corp Medic and I have just stopped at one of Toledo's best kept secrets. El Camino. The BEST Mexican food I've ever had. My Medic Partner approves.
We're sitting in the parking lot looking out as the traffic flies down Sylvania Ave. It's the first meal we've had so far after back to back to back 911 runs. It's already 4:30 in the afternoon.
My partner has finished his third and last taco around the same time I start my second. I offer him my last taco as there's no way I'll be able to finish it.
"Girl you need to learn to eat faster or you're going to waste away to nothing working this job."
"Fat chance of that happening." Just as I take a bite of my delicious bit of ground beef, chilies, cheese and sour cream I see something odd out of the corner of my eye. It flies past too quickly for me to process it.
"JESUS FUCKING CHRIST DID YOU SEE THAT?" Marine Corp Partner is yelling for me to call dispatch and he disappears before I can even realize what has happened. I scan the street in front of me trying to put together what happened.
There's a 1990-ish Oldsmobile on it's roof, not forty feet away from the truck.
I key up the Mic mouth full of taco. "Uhm, Unit 2 to dispatch."
"Unit 2, go ahead."
"We're at Sylvania and Douglas, We just witnessed a MVC, one car on it's roof, contact Toledo's Finest for us and send another unit"
"We're clear Unit 2. TC, Fire and police are being notified."
"EPI!!! AIRWAY BAG!" Marine Corp is yelling from the street. I look up to see where he is and that's when I notice the second car.
I jump out of the truck with the portable radio and run to the back where the airway bag is. I pick up the heavy blue bag and the Narc bag next to it. I pull a backboard out and move as fast as I can towards the first car, the one on it's roof.
The snow is coming down. There's close to two inches on the ground already.
"Epi, do you know where the intubation kit is? Hand me the BVM."
I've never been so happy in my life that I did the rig check that morning.
I pull the BVM out and tear the plastic bag it's in. I put it together and hand it to MCP.
"Uhm, MCP, seven or 7.5? What blade do you want?" I pause long enough to see a 70 year old woman hanging upside down. Blood cakes her face. She's not breathing. Groceries are everywhere in the car. A head of lettuce, cans of baked beans, a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk are scattered everywhere. It hits me, we're going to have to get her out.
"Epi? Answer the damn radio before I throw it across the street."
"Unit 2, come in, Unit 2...."
"Oh... Uhm, Unit 2 here. We have one patient, two cars involved." I look up at the other car, the driver is talking on his cell phone excitedly and watching us work. "The driver of the second car looks okay, I would still send that second unit though."
"We're clear 2. Fire and police should be there shortly."
MCP is holding C-Spine. "Let's get her out, she's not trapped. I can't tube her at this angle and the car isn't stable."
I pull the board towards us and ask him where he wants me. He has me take C-spine while he retrieves that deliciously tacky tool off of his belt that I had been laughing at not five minutes prior. He cuts through her belt and supports her body as she starts to fall from the seat she's in.
In seconds she's on our backboard. MCP is tearing open a tube when I notice her chest rise.
"MCP?" I watch her take another breath, then another.
"MCP???" I repeat, tapping his arm.
"What?" He says attaching the syringe to the tube.
"She's breathing, MCP. Looks like 12 or 16... Color's improving."
MCP watches her chest for a second then looks at her face. "Well shit. Go Grandma." He cranks the O2 up to 15 liters and puts a NRB on her.
"Do you want me to go check the other driver?" I ask as I dust the snow off of me.
"What other driver?"
I motion towards the pimped out Neon with heavy front end damage across three lanes of traffic.
"Jesus I didn't even see that car. Go check the driver, if you need me, yell."
The driver is still yammering loudly on his cell phone, I can hear him from across the street.
"Sir?" I start as I approach him. A shiver runs through me. I'm soaked to the bone. "Sir, are you okay?"
"Eric, duuuude, you need to come get mee. Pleeeease dude." The smell of the alcohol coming off of his breath is so strong that I have to take a step back. "Whoa."
"Go take care of that stupid bitch. THAT STUPID BITCH THAT CUT ME OFF!!!" Douchebag patient screams into the phone. "Duuude. PLEASE." Douchebag patient is begging to whatever poor bastard he's trying to convince to come pick his sorry ass up. He keeps looking around nervously as cop cars are showing up.
MCP is standing by the first patients car watching everything unravel. I look back at him and he's starting to walk towards us. Another crew has arrived and are loading up the first patient.
"Sir, you need to hang up the phone." I stammer. Douchebag patient is dialing another number. Completely ignoring me.
Shit. He's not listening to me. Why am I so nervous. Why won't he listen to me? I'm going to look like a complete moron. Dude, put down the phone, just let me take a look at you and shut the fuck up. Please. I'm begging. Okay, time to pull up your big girl panties and take control of the situation.
"SIR." I yell this time. I use my Mommy-is-pissed tone-of-voice. "Hang up the fucking phone. NOW." I can feel my heart racing, but enough is God damned enough.
"I'm fine..." He continues to dial.
"You're bleeding from your forehead and you're drunk. Now hang up the damn phone before I call the cops over."
"Everything okay over here?" MCP walks up behind me.
Douchebag patient is 5'10" and a buck fifty soaking wet. I'm three inches taller and a bit heavier. Marine Corp is 6'5" and 250 pounds of muscle with a vein that bulges out of his forehead when he's pissed.
And He IS pissed. "He giving you a problem?"
Dipshit, er, I mean Douchebag patient's eyes are the size of half dollars. Marine Corp Partner is rather intimidating.
I look at Douchebag with renewed courage. "Just hang up the damn cell phone and let me take a look at you. Please. Unless you'd be more comfortable with my partner." The street lights are on, the snow is falling, I'm chilled to the bone. What I'm assuming is broken glass or asphalt has ripped a hole in my pants, melting snow is running down my leg into my socks.
Translation: I'm balls ass cold.
The Douche in the end submitted to a stellar BLS assessment by yours truly. He ended up boarded and collared but okay. Seven stitches to his forehead. And a pair of shiny handcuffs.
Patient #1 made a complete and full recovery. She went from a bloody blue upside down old lady to a very grateful patient who still sends me emails from time to time. Apparently she had been feeling ill most of the day. She didn't remember heading out to the grocery store in the snow. Turns out she had a massive MI. Per the local STEMI protocol she headed to the nearest ER with a Cath Lab. I met up with her two days later during a shift with Pseudo Dad. Her family was fantastic.
One more reason why I love my job.
I was a newer EMT then, I was easily intimidated. I'm proud to say I've grown a bit since then. I still like working with the guys, and I miss Marine Corp and Pseudo Dad, but I don't need them to feel secure as a female EMT. I don't feel like I have to be protected from a patient because I'm a woman.
It took a little old lady and a drunk asshole to begin to teach me that.
We're bouncing along in the truck heading towards the station where I left my change purse (and drivers license, and two credit cards, oh, yeah, and all of my cash). Little Bit is in the backseat strapped into her booster seat chattering to herself.
"What is it Sis?
"Mom! Motorcycle!!!" She's bouncing up and down in her booster seat, pointing excitedly out her window. "MO-TOE-PSYCHO!!!!!"
I look to the left to see what type of motorcycle she's referring to. Everything is a motorcycle to She Who Rules right now. Helicopters, big trucks, bicycles, ambulances, and yes, even motorcycles. This particular motorcycle happens to he a LCEMS Lifesquad. It's a monster. (One of those McCoy's with the Chevy chassis. They give me a serious case of truck envy). It's approaching from the left, code three and hauling as--- hauling booty.
Epi: "Where do you think they're going Sis?"
She Who Rules: "Uhm, I don't know."
Epi: "Do you think they're going to the hospital?"
SWR: *blank stare*
Epi: Okay, clearly we need to work on your vocabulary. "Do you think they're going to get someone who is sick?"
SWR: "Nooooooo" *giggle*
Epi: "Do you think they're going to get someone with an owwie?"
SWR: *hysterical laughter* "Nooo Mommy. You silly"
Epi: "Well little Missy, where are they going so fast?"
SWR: "TO EAT!!!!!"
Epi: *Snort followed by belly laughs* "Sweety..." *trying to breath* "Sis, I think they're taking care of someone with an owwie."
SWR: "TO EEEEAT! TO EAT TO EAT!!!!!"
Epi: *wiping tears from my eyes* "Baby, you really think that they're going to get something to eat with all those lights and making so much noise?"
SWR: "Yes, they hungwee!"
Epi: "Okay, Sister, they probably are hungry. I'm sure they're going for cheeseburgers. Code Three, for cheeseburgers."
SWR: "CODE THWEEEE!!!!!" *More hysterical laughter*
Okay, so not to make light of Code Three driving or Toledo's Finest, but it was kind of cute.
We load Carlos onto the stretcher with terrific care. He barely weighs 120 pounds, McHottie could have picked him up and placed him there all on his own.
The ride to the hospital is close to an hour long. We pass three hospitals along the way there, and it frustrates me. Stretcher rides are not comfortable. He's jaundiced. His BP is in the tank, or heading that way, at 80/48. He hasn't dialized in five days. He's breathing at a rate of 12. The only words he mumbles during the transport are "frio" and "duele". I took two years of Spanish and they were more than a few years ago, but I remember the words cold and pain. I pile some bath blankets on him and try to get him as comfortable as possible.
"So, short of heading to the beach with a bucket of Corona's and a lime, this really isn't a bad place to have lunch, really. If you can actually call what you're eating lunch."
"Screw you, McHottie, don't mock my bag of Gardetto's. They are so tasty." And they're cheap. They're very cheap.
We're parked in a Metropark, overlooking a playground, an open field, and a heavily wooded area. If there's one thing I absolutely love about the city of Toledo it's the metroparks. You're never more than ten minutes away from a beautiful space, and they're completely free. We're in the one park I've never been to. And it's beautiful. And I have my camera.
Now, if the boards will only stay quiet...
We sit and listen to Jack Johnson on the Ipod and enjoy the beautiful weather. Neither of us really notice when the car pulled up. It was when the occupant got out that we first started paying attention.
"Epi? What's she doing?"
We both simultaneously tip our heads slightly to the right. Like maybe that will help us understand what it is we're witnessing.
"I'm not sure. Dancing? Maybe it's a really good song on the radio."
McHottie decides he must find out. He braves the 90 degree plus heat and rolls the window down and strains to hear what could be inspiring such a... joyful display.
"I don't hear anything."
I don't hear anything either, of course over the sound of the diesel engine and the a/c roaring at a temperature that could keep a side of beef frozen...
Now she's stomping her feet and tossing her hands in the air while she spins around slowly in circles.
"Wow." For the first time since I've met McHottie about six months back, he is absolutely speachless.
I continue to munch on lunch, but it's as if I'm watching a train wreck. I just can't look away. "She's... she's... she's absolutely fantastic."
"She's pink slip material," he laughs. "Hey... Epi..." He's pointing at a picnic table where a male couple are watching our subject with equal interest.
"I'd sell my soul for a video camera," I start. "No one is going to believe this. It's like... performance art." We've been watching her for a good five minutes straight. "It's like God knew exactly what I needed and for once gave it to me."
Our subject starts heading back towards her car and retreives what I can only describe as an article of jewelry formerly owned by Mr. T. A thick gold chain so large that we can clearly see it from across the parking lot. She puts the chain on and it hangs down to her belly button. Then she reaches back in the car and pulls out a green lawn chair.
McHottie is clearly deflated. "Damn, she's done."
"Base to Unit 120" Neither one of us want to pick up the mic, but like those student loan bill collectors, dispatch isn't going to forget we're here if we don't answer.
I key the mic up, "Unit 120... go"
"You have a 2pm pick up at BFE Nursing Home. Do you need directions?"
"Not necessary Ma'am, we're clear on BFE and en route." I check my pager to see if we know the patient we're picking up. "Hey, " I ask McHottie, who is still staring at our potential pink slip subject, "That dude we picked up last week from dialysis... the one who should have gone by 'lette... What was his name?"
"Carlos...Carlos... I don't remember his last name." McHottie picks up his pager and checks the run. "VILLEGAS! That's him. Screw that, he can go by wheelchair..." He picks up his cell phone and calls dispatch while our favorite subject ever shakes it like a Polaroid picture.
McHottie finds out from dispatch that there are no ambulette's available, so we can either take Mr. Villegas to an Oncology appointment, or we can take our pick of the two bariatric runs that are on the board. The call is ours. We choose Carlos. McHottie says the sun shines out of his ass... Today I believe him. Hey, my back hurts.
Posted by Epijunky at 7/15/2008 06:33:00 PM
I've been getting a shitload of traffic (and emails... and comments...) courtesy of AD pimping my blog.
Thank you, everyone. Everyone who commented and emailed me or found me through IM's... You've been almost entirely wonderfully supportive.
I initially wrote this because a friend told me it was a story that needed to be told (Yes, Matt, that's you). It was my first code. I've had a few more since then, thank God no one that I knew like Hilda, they've gone MUCH smoother.
It's still upsetting. They still make me nervous and shaky. But they've gone better. I'm able to focus and do what I'm supposed to do. I might cry afterwards, but at least I'm functioning during.
I want to thank AD for the mention. It means a lot coming from him, he's pretty much the reason I started writing again.
Thank you, AD.
Shamelessly stolen from Idaho Kat. Go check her out!
Procure yourself a Defense attorney: (Depending on the charge, anywhere from 5K to 500K or more!)
The pimped out suit you wear to court: $100.00 (Given the suit in the video I'd say that's fair)
Defending yourself at said case: Free.
Faking a frickin' MI and having the Judge call you on it: FUCKING PRICELESS. Pardon the language.
I promise the video is worth it.
"They want to take him away... We haven't spent more than a few nights apart in 63 years..." Hilda's voice is trailing off. I feel a knot form in my throat.
A lot of my coworkers are not the hand holding type. They say that getting too attached to your patients is a bad thing. They say that getting too emotionally involved can end your career and reduce you to twice-weekly psychiatrist visits.
I can't help it. I'm a hand-holder.
When I see someone truly hurting, physically or emotionally, it's in my nature to want to help if I can. Even if it's just to hold their hand, stroke their hair, or listen. It's part of being human. I believe that most of my patients really just want someone to hear them.
I pull my purple gloves off and place my hand over hers. "So, have you talked to Oscar about this?" I give her a gentle squeeze.
"I tried... He just won't listen to a word of it." Hilda retrieves a tissue from her pocket. Her sweater reminds me of one my Grandma used to wear, with Christmas Trees and snow covered hills embroidered into it. The tissue has soaked up its fair share of tears today. I reach across the table and grab the box so she can have a fresh one.
"Thank You Dear."
"Ma'am, you're very welcome. What about your children, have they talked to him yet?"
Hilda shakes her head. "Jeff and Jeannie are coming up this weekend. They're living in Pennsylvania now." Hilda wipes her tears away, but more follow. One by one they fall down her pink cheeks.
Partner pokes his head around the corner, "Epi? Chair time is in twenty five minutes, we're going to be late."
I nod and turn back to Hilda, squeezing her hand one more time. "Ma'am, will you be okay? Is there a friend I can call for you? Or the Social Worker here?"
"I'll be okay. They're going to come today when he gets back from his treatment. I guess I should start packing his things. Do you think they'll allow him to have some personal items? Like our Wedding picture, or some flowers?"
My heart hurts for her. It's hard not to put myself in her position. "I'm sure it won't be a problem." I get to my feet. I don't want to leave her, but the clock is ticking and dispatch is already paging us for an update. I don't know what else to say to her, She's sitting at that table, She's confused and sad, and heartbroken.
All I want to do is give her a hug. "Ma'am, we have to get Oscar over to Regional, they get pretty upset with us when we're late."
"You go on ahead. And please, call me Hilda. None of this Ma'am silliness. You kids are like family to us. Don't forget your cookies now." Hilda smiles. I feel a little better.
As my Partner and I are rolling the stretcher out to our truck, Oscar pipes up. "What were you two gals talking about in there? Did you get my beef jerky? My Hildy, she can talk a wildcat's ear off."
I hold up the zip lock bag with the jerky in it. "It's right here, Oscar." I hand it to him and he clutches it possessively.
"You didn't eat any, did you?" He's accusing more than asking.
"Oscar, I promise, if there's any missing my Partner ate it." I laugh, looking back at Partner. He looks shocked that I joke with patients. "It's okay, Partner. Hey, where's the cookies?"
His look of disappointment says it all. "I forgot them. I guess the next crew will score a snack."
Oscar and my partner are loaded in the back of the truck. It's starting to snow. I have a feeling Oscar might be a little late.