Sirens blare from afar constantly, and you know that they are heading straight for you, the struggling persons in the vehicles relying on you to diagnose and treat them. Sometimes, all your beds are empty, and other times every bed is full to the point where patients are laying in the halls. An ambulance stops in front of the automatic sliding doors, and an old woman on a gurney is wheeled in. You bark the order to send them to bed 38, and the paramedics head there with haste. The 97-year-old woman is struggling to breath, an oxygen mask strapped to her face. She looks up at you, her eyes pleading for you to help her, and yet she seems to not have a care in the world, smiling and making jokes about being here. You can't help but smile at how sweet this poor woman is. When she's all situated, you feel as though you can leave and let the family have time with her. About an hour later, one of the nurses comes into the emergency pod office, saying that 38 is having trouble breathing. You briskly walk back to the woman's room to find her struggling to breath. You order a breathing treatment to be put into action, and you walk back to the pod office. Soon, another nurse comes in to inform you that the woman and her family have decided to sign a do-not-resisitate. So when the poor woman who looked up to you to help her starts to fall into a downward spiral, and all you can do is stand and wait for nature to take its course, you feel like you are betraying your own code. You went into this profession to save people, and yet you're standing here watching this poor old woman go through a slow, and probably painful, death. When she finally passes, you hang your head and reluctantly announce the time of death. Then you walk out. And that number is forever engraved in your mind... 38.
April 22, 2012