Sunday, June 26, 2005

The artist in the ambulance

So I had breakfast yesterday morning with someone who means so much to me, but he didn't even know me. While I was in paramedic school last year I was working a 24hr shift on one of the small barrier islands that surrounds the city I live in. Normally a slow truck, referred to lovingly as "the vacation station" I worked a call that almost made me forget about being a paramedic.

He had been hit by a car while riding his bicycle down a normally deserted road on J.Island. We thought his tire blew and pushed him into a truck that was driving by. His friend that was with him didn't even see the truck. He hit the grill of the truck with his face and toppled over the roof and landed behind the truck, we never did find out what he caught his arm on, but it had been amputated. When we pulled up and Heard my patient before I saw him, I will never forget that sound. I got nauseated but continued toward him. He was awake and screaming. His face below his eyes was basically gone, just an open mess of flesh, teeth and blood. I have never seen such a fighter. We loaded him up and worked for a airway for this man. We got one and he was flown out by a helicopter. For three days he bothered me, until called one of my mentors who was on scene with us and she told me to go see him in the ICU. I went the next night after clinicals. His room was empty except for an RT who I knew from my days in the ER at this same hospital. "Go on talk to him, he can hear you" the RT said. I went up to him, not really knowing what to say and just said his name. Although highly sedated, when I said his name, his eyes moved toward my voice. His face was what it should look like and his arm was reattached, pink and he was able to move his fingers. As I spoke to him, he moved his hand to mine and squeezed. After seeing him put back together I knew his was fine and was going to do very well. We, my fellow sisters of the streets and I did a good thing. He is alive because of us.

So here it is a year later. I am now finished with school. I can call myself Paramedic. So a week ago my mentor called me while she was having breakfast with the cyclist. I had sent him a letter a few weeks after the accident and while they were having breakfast he asked for my new address . He had attempted to send a Christmas card to me and it got sent back to him for we had moved. My mentor called me while there,however I was working and was not able to take the call. So when I called back she told me about him and that he and his family have breakfast almost every weekend together. And he wanted to meet me. So Today I went and met this man who changed my life as much as I changed his.

As soon as I walked in he came up to me and gave me a huge hug and just kept saying "thank you" He looked great, Spoke very fast and very clearly. He wanted to know everything about his accident, what we saw, why we did what we did, and what we were thinking during the call. He wanted all the gory details. Things that you normally would not tell. Sometime the things you see and the pain you feel for these people you keep inside they are not meant to be shared with the outside world. They just would not understand. However with this man He were able to share what happened and our feelings during and after the accident. I think of the three of us I was the one who was changed the most. I am fairly new to EMS and was not sure how to deal with all the feelings I had. And meeting this man, who's airway I held open with my hands, who's life had been saved by us, the 3 women medics, I realized that I had been part of something good. He is back to competing in triathalons. "The only thing," he said to me, "I don't really swim as fast as I used to." He has about 80% back in his reattached arm. My current partner, also a triathleate, saw him at one of the local competitions. He told me that he looked good, however I didn't think he would look as good as he did. He is a little self conscious about his scars on his face and he was telling us that he has to have several more surgeries to rebuild his jaw and nose. We stayed and talked for several hours, he had questions and we had the answers he craved. It was close to noon when we left. He promised to keep in touch with all of us. We promised the same.


R said...

that was a very inspiring post

Adam said...

Those calls definately make this job worth doing, when you get the chance to literally pull someone from the brink of death. And getting to meet the miracle pt after their recovery must be amazing.

I've had a few traumas that we were fortunate enough to save when even the flight paramedics dubbed them FPOs... Never got to meet them though. it's nice enough knowin that not only did they make it, but that they made a stunning recovery.

Good luck with the ones in the future.