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Ambulance: Corona Together

Written by RSS Poster StorytellERdoc
This breath is a gift...
This moment is a gift...
This life is a gift...

As with every other person, I am struggling to comprehend the staggering effects that Covid-19 has had on our society in such a short time. Gone are the carefree smiles, the uncomplicated daily lives, and the thought that we and our families are immune to unexpected death. Instead, we are witnessing a collapse in society to the degree that most believe survival hinges on the amount of toilet paper and paper towel one has stockpiled.

Being an ER physician facing this dilemma on the front lines of a large emergency and trauma center, I am also bearing witness to the more daunting picture of this dilemma--the mental and physical effects Covid-19 is having on our patients as well as on all of us. Regardless of the severity of a patient's illness and diagnosis, time and again I am now witnessing an unsettling fear in their eyes, conveying a belief that somehow Covid-19 is playing a part in their (lack of) well-being. They are scared.

For the rest of us, any minor symptom is being...

Continues, Read More...


Ambulance: Corona Together

Written by RSS Poster StorytellERdoc
This breath is a gift...
This moment is a gift...
This life is a gift...

As with every other person, I am struggling to comprehend the staggering effects that Covid-19 has had on our society in such a short time. Gone are the carefree smiles, the uncomplicated daily lives, and the thought that we and our families are immune to unexpected death. Instead, we are witnessing a collapse in society to the degree that most believe survival hinges on the amount of toilet paper and paper towel one has stockpiled.

Being an ER physician facing this dilemma on the front lines of a large emergency and trauma center, I am also bearing witness to the more daunting picture of this dilemma--the mental and physical effects Covid-19 is having on our patients as well as on all of us. Regardless of the severity of a patient's illness and diagnosis, time and again I am now witnessing an unsettling fear in their eyes, conveying a belief that somehow Covid-19 is playing a part in their (lack of) well-being. They are scared.

For the rest of us, any minor symptom is being...

Continues, Read More...


Ambulance: A Time To Heal

Written by RSS Poster StorytellERdoc
So much of the world is broken
and I want to be part of its healing...

The election is over. It was turbulent and intense. It was frustrating and anxiety-provoking. It was hopeful and disappointing. It was the roller coaster ride we all anticipated it to be.

Yet, we all remain in limbo, sitting in this awful gray zone of the unknown, wondering if our candidate will be declared the winner or if we will need to accept that the other guy pulled it off. We want to know now and yet we may not find out for days or weeks. We are each sitting in the fog of our own hopes and fears, our minds racing, wondering what the future will bring each of us after we find out concretely who will lead our country into the next four years. We are thinking about our families, our planet, our economy, our employment, our foreign friendships and enemies, and our own welfare. 

Our worries are overwhelming. We are exhausted.

On every level, each of us are in some need of healing. We are each guilty of letting ourselves become immersed in negativity and conflict. Our minds are...

Continues, Read More...


Ambulance: Who's To Blame?

Written by RSS Poster StorytellERdoc
You fail all the time,
but you aren't a failure until you blame someone else.

I was shocked by her appearance. Although she was in her early 50s, she looked closer to 80.  Matted peroxide hair.  Dull, lifeless eyes.  Sagging skin and deep wrinkles.  Protruding cheek bones.  Cracked, dry lips with a hint of yesterday's lipstick caked in their corners.  Gray and yellow-stained teeth, some chipped. In her prime and before alcohol and cigarettes became her every thought, I could imagine an attractive, lovely woman.  Now, sadly, what sat in front of me on the hospital cot in Room 12 was nothing short of a shell of a human being.  This was a woman who lived a hard life.

She had presented to our ER in respiratory distress.  Although she already had an established diagnosis of emphysema, she continued to smoke two packs of cigarettes a day.  On top of this, she had just finished a ten-day drinking binge, the last five of which she spent either passed out or drinking.  She claimed to have not eaten in that time.  I was called to her room because she was in...

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Ambulance: Where To Look

Written by RSS Poster StorytellERdoc
"Where words are restrained, the eyes often talk a great deal."

I walked into Room 30 to find two eager sets of eyes awaiting me. One set belonged to a young man, late-twenties, muscular and imposing, sitting in a chair in the corner of the room. His eyes were hazel brown, big and inviting, relieved at seeing my entry into their sheltered world. The other set of eyes, darker brown and magnified by her gold-stemmed glasses, belonged to my patient, a woman in her early-sixties. She sat  upright in her treatment cot, knees drawn up to her chest and covered by the thin hospital-issued bed sheet.

Clearly, I had interrupted a conversation between them. Upon my entrance into their treatment room, they gave me the respect and gift of silence, a pause in which I would be able to introduce myself. As many of my fellow coworkers would confirm, this does not often happen. Rather, it is not unusual for us providers to walk into a treatment room only to wait for a patient to finish a cell phone conversation (while holding up an index finger indicating they are almost...

Continues, Read More...


Ambulance: A Love Story

Written by RSS Poster StorytellERdoc
The little things?
The little moments?
They aren't little...

I noticed the two of them shortly after I arrived for my shift. I was standing at the counter, immersed in a chart, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw them walk out of their treatment room. Together.

Slowly, they walked into the hallway, looking first to their left and then to their right, wondering which way to go. One of them pointed down the hallway, grabbed the other's pale hand, and they began to walk toward their destination.

They were obviously in-sync and comfortable with one another, leaning into one another with each step. They continued to hold each other's hand as they approached me, and my eyes locked onto their steadfast grip. As they neared where I was standing, I smiled at the both of them and was rewarded with a return smile from each, doubling my investment.

"Can I help either of you?" I asked, studying their faces as they gave me their attention. Faces etched with contentment.

"No, thank you." It was said in unison. "We're just heading to the bathroom," added the one.

They...

Continues, Read More...


Ambulance: The Witness

Written by RSS Poster StorytellERdoc
A picture is worth a thousand words...

The patient arrived in cardiac arrest. He had been brought to our emergency department in the middle of the night. Although he had a significant cardiac history, including bypass surgery, he was only in his late-forties. His transport from his house to our department had been less than ten minutes and the pre-hospital team had done an excellent job of intubating this patient and establishing an IV to begin resuscitation efforts.

His wife was with him. Less than fifteen short minutes before their arrival, her life had been altered forever when her husband had woken her from her deep sleep to complain that he had intense chest pain. Mere seconds later, she witnessed him pass out and become completely unresponsive.

On arrival to our ER, we found this patient to be in pulseless ventricular tachycardia--a malignant, life-threatening electrical rhythm of the heart. Following ACLS protocol, we hurriedly shocked this patient several times, performed CPR and administered multiple doses of medications to combat this rhythm.

Continues, Read More...


Ambulance: Double-Knot These Threads

Written by RSS Poster StorytellERdoc
"...it would be interesting to find out what goes on in that moment 
when someone looks at you and draws all sorts of conclusions."

A few years back, I took care of a frail elderly gentleman who, accompanied by his wife, had come to the ER with an elbow injury after tripping over a curb in front of a local restaurant. They had been traveling from Buffalo to Cleveland and had stopped for a quick bite and a bathroom break.

Before entering his room to treat him, I had been given a heads-up by Rita, his nurse, that this patient's demeanor was abrasive and demanding. "You are going to love his wife, though," Rita added, "she is one of the sweetest women I have ever met."

Appreciating Rita's warning, I knocked on the door and entered, prepared to face this ornery fellow. What I wasn't prepared for, though, was this patient's physical appearance. He was extremely small in stature, petite almost. His legs dangled over the cot's side and swayed several feet above the tiled-floor. His clothes hung loosely off his thin frame. His fedora hat swallowed up...

Continues, Read More...


Ambulance: Be Good. Do Good.

Written by RSS Poster StorytellERdoc
Do your little bit of good where you are.
It's those little bits of good put together that
overwhelm the world.    Desmond Tutu

Recently, my son Cole and I were enjoying an afternoon out of the house, running around town to tackle our to-do list of errands (masked, of course). We stopped at Sam's Club and Walmart, stocking up on our low supplies of food and other necessities. As an added bonus, we enjoyed the people-watching and marveled at the wide spectrum of personal flaws the other shoppers provided us.

It seemed that the Covid-19 crisis had fueled an already blossoming trend of wearing fleece pajama bottoms in public without any embarrassment. People tended to have a greasy quality to them, clearly reducing their shower time as a personal protest to the quarantine guidelines. With masks on, the eyes of these shoppers held the power of conveying a wide spectrum of gratitude, misery, frustration, happiness, and paranoia. I enjoyed interpreting these various moods and realized that zombies were alive and well, living among us.

After these stops, the...

Continues, Read More...


Ambulance: The Power Of A Nurse

Written by RSS Poster StorytellERdoc
I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything, 
I will not refuse to do something that I can do...Helen Keller

The car pulls into the driveway of a cape cod as the sunrise breaks through remnants of last night's fog. The driver pulls up to the garage and stares at the door, deciding to park outside. Lights are turned off. The engine is cut. The driver exhales a deep breath she didn't know she was holding. She rests her forehead into the steering wheel. A tear rolls down her cheek as a hesitant smile emerges. She thinks back to the many triumphs and defeats she bravely faced for the past twelve hours. Her fingers entwine the plastic Minnie Mouse bracelet she is wearing, given to her by a patient with leukemia. She walks into her house. Despite her sheer exhaustion, sleep will not come until after she wakes up her three kids to dress them, feed them and escort them to their bus stop.

This is the life of a nurse.

He looks as tired as he feels, despite sleeping well the night...

Continues, Read More...




Latest StorytellERdoc Stories

Corona Together
Corona Together
A Time To Heal
Who's To Blame?
Where To Look

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Emergency Shorts:
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