Friday, 5 November 2010

Eye of the Storm

A storm is brewing.

As the doors are opened by the sleepy-eyed night duty nurse, the gale force wind forces them wide and dumps the latest pile of leaves into the foyer of the nursing home. Laden with several bags, and not knowing which way to turn, we wait for her to regain her composure and lead the way. In the thirty seconds since we arrived, she has so far failed to complete a single one of the dozen sentences she's started.

"He's up on the..."

"We just found him and..."

"We've tried CPR but..."

"We knew there was something wrong so..."

"So you called us?" I ventured.


Not exactly the model of calm in a crisis you'd expect from an experienced member of the nursing staff, but we've met this problem before in this home. After another round of verbal stutterings, she finally remembers to direct us to the patient, and trots ahead in that sort of run that always looks as though it'd be quicker to walk.

A trail of green follows her, each back and shoulder laden with a different piece of luggage ready for the attempt at saving another human life.

The window in the room is slightly ajar, bringing the howling noise of the winds outside into the battlefield within. The first thing we notice is the blood on the wall, and the streaking lines that lead to his head. A quick look tells us that whether there was CPR or not, it was certainly not required now. Although deeply unconscious, he was breathing on his own, and a strong pulsating artery could be seen in his neck. A mix of good signs and bad.

Unsure of what's happened, we protect his neck and spine from further injury, apply a bandage to the gaping head wound, and stabilise him as much as possible before the unstable transfer to hospital begins. A look in his eyes reveals one pupil larger than the other, an insulted brain showing signs of fatigue, a clue to the possible cause.

The short gap between the building and the ambulance is filled with swirling gusts and the ambulance itself sways in defiance of the forces of nature. It's going to be a rough ride.

Late evening calm is fractured by the siren as it wails its mournful tones to the rhythm of his breathing. At times we're forced to help him a little. The trees along the route are shaken loose of their leaves, blanketing the cold, darkened roads with the warm oranges of autumn. A warmth seen, but not felt, as the storm whips up into a frenzy.

Yet the eyes at the centre of this particular storm lay calm and lifeless, their brutal honesty betraying the secret of a battle fought and lost.


medic birdie said...

your patient changes genders at the beginning of their description. :)

InsomniacMedic said...

huh? one female nurse, one male patient! i think...

medic birdie said...

the streaking lines lead to the nurse's head?

InsomniacMedic said...

*hurriedly changes the error*
huh? no idea what you're talking about!
*innocent look*
(but really - thank you - and well spotted!!!)