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Ambulance: A Family's Cry...

Written by RSS Poster StorytellERdoc
"The death of a child is the single most traumatic event in medicine. To lose a child is to lose a piece of yourself."

I walked into work yesterday morning and it only took seconds to appreciate the immense sorrow and sadness that permeated the air. My beautiful work family was despondent and deflated. Shoulders were slumped, feet were shuffling, faces wore defeat.

Something terrible had occurred during the night shift. Damn it. I felt my heart clench with the fear of anticipating the news that would cause such palpable pain to my coworkers.

Walking toward the first nurses' station, "Central" as we know it, I said brief good mornings to several nurses and techs as well as our unit coordinator, Amy. Most of them were either sitting or standing, leaning into the counter. Under the fluorescent lights, their eyes were dull. A profound fog of nothingness seemed to envelop each of them.

"Amy," I said, "what happened? What's going on?"

It took her all of five seconds to explain the catastrophe. "Dr. Jim, four children died in a house fire."

No. No. No. No....

Continues, Read More...


Ambulance: Senator Walsh...Thank You.

Written by RSS Poster StorytellERdoc
Senator Walsh...Thank you.

Because or your flagrant words against some of the hardest-working members of our medical community, we have united to stand against you and rally for our "card-playing" nurses.

Like most of my medical family, I was astounded and frustrated at the belittling ignorance of Senator Walsh's recent comments about the amazing nurses throughout our great country. Senator Walsh's comments were felt not only by our hard-working nurses, who give a piece of their heart and soul with each and every shift, but also by the rest of our diverse medical community. Senator Walsh's comments were arrows directed at the hearts of our nurses. Yet,  those very arrows also hit the hearts of each of us who work beside them.

We all bled at Senator Walsh's blatant disrespectful and asinine words. Being health providers, though, we did what we do best--we stopped the bleeding. We strengthened the bonds of our medical family. We rallied to our nurses' sides. We hugged our nurses, we spoke words of inspiration to our nurses, and we reminded...

Continues, Read More...


Ambulance: Wallowing In It

Written by RSS Poster StorytellERdoc
"Sometimes shit just happens."

Just a few days ago, I finished yet another string of four hectic shifts in the ER of our incredibly busy trauma center. After saying my goodbyes to my coworkers and transferring the care of my remaining patients to my partner, I left the building through our ambulance doors, avoiding the main pedestrian entranceway where the hectic waiting room sat. 

It was a safe choice to leave this way, as it was 3 a.m. and both the ER and the waiting room were still swarming with much activity. Had I tried to navigate leaving through all the chaos of the waiting room, I would have been a target of many evil and angry stares from those patients who continued to sit there with non-emergent complaints, watching the lone TV that was looped with repeating segments regarding diet and fitness. Of course, who wouldn't want to learn the benefits of eating cauliflower and doing fifty daily sit-ups at 3 a.m., right? 

As the sliding glass doors of the ambulance entrance opened up, a blast of cold winter air greeted me, daring me to leave the...

Continues, Read More...


Ambulance: Wallowing In It

Written by RSS Poster StorytellERdoc
"Sometimes shit just happens."

Just a few days ago, I finished yet another string of four hectic shifts in the ER of our incredibly busy trauma center. After saying my goodbyes to my coworkers and transferring the care of my remaining patients to my partner, I left the building through our ambulance doors, avoiding the main pedestrian entranceway where the hectic waiting room sat. 

It was a safe choice to leave this way, as it was 3 a.m. and both the ER and the waiting room were still swarming with much activity. Had I tried to navigate leaving through all the chaos of the waiting room, I would have been a target of many evil and angry stares from those patients who continued to sit there with non-emergent complaints, watching the lone TV that was looped with repeating segments regarding diet and fitness. Of course, who wouldn't want to learn the benefits of eating cauliflower and doing fifty daily sit-ups at 3 a.m., right? 

As the sliding glass doors of the ambulance entrance opened up, a blast of cold winter air greeted me, daring me to leave the...

Continues, Read More...


Ambulance: Fleece Pajama Bottoms 2019

Written by RSS Poster StorytellERdoc
People will stare. Make it worth their while. 

Can someone please tell me the exact moment when fleece pajama bottoms became the fashion sensibility of America?

I can't pinpoint the moment exactly, but several years ago I began to notice that many of our ER patients were presenting for treatment wearing nice fluffy fleece bottoms. Men. Women. Old. Young. These fleece bottoms seemed to be enjoyed by a variety of the population. Most of these earlier bottoms for the younger patients were of superheroes and childhood figures, like kitties and ponies. For the older patients, it seemed like the characters from the adult-cartoons The Simpsons and The Family Guy were a big hit.

Being a new sort of fashion, I enjoyed the earlier era of these pajama bottoms. They seemed to be appropriate wear for some of our sicker patients who didn't have the energy to change out of their bed wear before coming to us for medical help. Especially the kids, who often had matching fleece blankets, I enjoyed the style of these pajamas and the apparent comfort they...

Continues, Read More...


Ambulance: It's Not About The Pus

Written by RSS Poster StorytellERdoc
To Dr. Sandra Lee. Heartfelt thanks for humanizing medicine and for inspiring along the way...

Several years ago, my daughter Emma introduced me to some videos on YouTube of a dermatologist from California who posted her sometimes shocking but always intriguing encounters with patients who suffered from a variety of dermatologic issues. Of all of these videos, it seemed like the ones which made Emma happiest to watch were the videos in which this doctor's treatment resulted in gallons of pus draining from some part of the patient's body.

Well, okay--Emma liked pus and blackheads. Well, pus and blackheads and massive lipomas (fat-based tumors). Well, pus and blackheads and massive lipomas and big hairy moles. Well...

You get the picture.

With some great finesse and skill, and with a good mix of humor and learning, Dr. Sandra Lee, better known as Dr. Pimple Popper, was able to help many embarrassed patients survive their dermatologic issues, all the while captivating my daughter's interest. "Eewww, gross," Emma said. "Let's watch it again!"

Continues, Read More...


Ambulance: 4, 3, 2, 1 And 90.

Written by RSS Poster StorytellERdoc
Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. 
Be kind.
Always.

One of the largest problems in our ER, it seems, is that there is a subset of patients who visit us on a routine basis. Commonly known as "the regulars," these familiar faces are sprinkled throughout our day between all our other patient visits. Whether it be for chronic pain, for chronic illness, for companionship, simply to have a place to hang out for a few hours, or to get some food, we are often inundated with these patients at the most inopportune times. Three trauma patients, four chest pain patients, two stroke patients, seven respiratory distress patients, three lacerations, two compound fractures, and five sick kids--and arriving between all of this organized commotion of providing good care are Johnny, Sally, and Herb, with a combined total of over two hundred visits between them.

It is a real problem in our ER. It is a real problem nationwide.

Of course, the most compassionate thing to do would be to sit down and spend some time with these patients....

Continues, Read More...


Ambulance: To Care Or Not

Written by RSS Poster StorytellERdoc
I dedicate this to each of you who have cared for or are currently caring for an ill parent or family member. 

Recently, due to the stress that several of my dearest friends have been experiencing in caring for their elderly parents, I am even more appreciative and respectful of my privilege in caring for elderly patients who have attentive and loving adult children who accompany them to our ER.

Although this may seem like it should be the standard, you would be surprised at just how many elderly patients present to our emergency department alone. At times, it is heart-breaking to hear their shared stories of being the lone survivor of their family, of being estranged from their children, or of having geographical factors contribute to their aloneness in presenting to me for care. So when an adult child is present, I make it a point to not only introduce myself to them, but also to thank them for being available for their parent. Including them in providing more history and in discussions about testing and treatment plans for their parent benefits not...

Continues, Read More...


Ambulance: I Feel Things...

Written by RSS Poster StorytellERdoc
I'm  back! Thanks to the many people in my life for their support and encouragement upon my returning--you know who you are! Please feel free to repost, share my return, and visit my archive!

Well, well, well...hello my long, lost friends. I missed you!

It seems like a long, long time since I have written a post for my blog, StorytellERdoc, and I am excited, nervous and humbled to be reentering your lives while returning to my baby.

What started as a small adventure and challenge from my writing group, with my first posting on November 19, 2009, turned into quite an amazing ride throughout the literary and social media world. The number of friends I met was staggering. I received recognition and awards. I won prizes. I was interviewed and contacted for my opinions. I got over a million hits. All of these things, though, were secondary to my intent. I simply wanted to pull you into my world, through my words, to focus on obscure life and ER moments that possessed a level of rawness and realness that connected you and I as fellow human beings. I wanted...

Continues, Read More...


Ambulance: It's All Innocent

Written by RSS Poster StorytellERdoc
Happy Monday, everybody!

Although I pride myself on catching the obscure snapshots of typical life moments that occur daily while dealing with patients and their families in the emergency department, occasionally there are times when I am so focused on the task at hand that I completely fail to see a glaring moment of obvious humor, sadness, or tenderness. At times like this, then, I am glad to have our hard-working nurses and techs with me in the room to bear witness to such events.

For example, recently I treated a 62 year-old retired kindergarten teacher who presented to our emergency department for a nosebleed. By appearances, she was exactly what you would picture a retired kindergarten teacher to look like--perfectly permed grey hair, kind eyes, folded "liver-spotted" hands resting in her lap, and the perfect amount of wrinkles at the corners of her eyes and mouth. If not for the actively dripping blood from her left nare (nostril) and the gory blood stains on her white cardigan sweater, I would have sworn she was there to simply to review...

Continues, Read More...




Latest StorytellERdoc Stories

A Family's Cry...
Senator Walsh...Thank You.
Wallowing In It
Wallowing In It
Fleece Pajama Bottoms 2019

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Emergency Shorts:
Blogs and short stories from those who look after everybody else. Police, Ambulance, Paramedics, Fire Fighters and Military Soldiers, they work tirelessly to help and protect us.

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