Yesterday, I had the day off. The definition of day off in my case means I have eight hours off but can still be paged at any time. I decide to go to a coffee shop near my apartment. I order my favorite espresso, I grab a newspaper and start to read.
Then I hear a beep, the distinctive sound of a beeper that I have become so accustomed to hearing these days. It is Janice the ER nurse. I call her. “TJ, we have a 19-year old MVA (Motor Vehicle Accident), pretty bruised up.”
I tell her I will be there ASAP. As I reach the hospital and catch the elevators, I hear the hovering sounds of the helicopter that are probably bringing the victim. I suddenly go back to the days of training in Detroit.
The sound of hovering helicopters made me think I am in a war zone. In fact it could have been a war zone as gun shot and stab wound victims were dime a dozen in that center. On the first day of working there I remembered why army surgeons came to train there.
As I get to the ER I find the victim. A 19-year-old Iranian girl, with dark brown hair with a cast around her head. She has big eyelashes. Her eyes are closed. John the ER doc tells me her blood pressure is low and she has various external and may be internal injuries. I examine her abdomen and find it unusually tender: sign of bleeding. I suddenly see her in a sea of blood.
She is young, she is beautiful. She could be someone's sister, girlfriend, daughter. John tells me she was in a car accident, her boyfriend crashed into another car. Apparently he was drunk. I get angry “How can the idiot not take care of such a beautiful girl?” But there is no time for anger as she needs to be rushed to the OR, operating room.
I grab Allan, a second year resident. “Do you want to scrub in for a potential ruptured spleen?” He eagerly says yes and joins me in the OR. As I put the scalpel on her belly, I soon see that blood is gushing out. My prediction was right she has massive internal injuries. The operation is a roller coaster ride.
As she keeps losing blood, I keep ordering blood and intermittent doses of epinephrine, a drug that increases blood pressure. Finally we are done, she is stable.
Janice tells me that he boyfriend and family are awaiting me for an update. I open the OR door with anger and go meet this clown. As I see him from far, I notice he is crying and keeps looking at me. I am outraged. I want to throw him to the wall and tell him that if he was five minutes late she would have died. I wanted to tell him that he doesn't deserve her.
As I approach him, I see the sign of regret and sadness in his eyes.
“She will be ok, don't worry.”
He gives me a look of appreciation and shakes my hand not wanting to let go. I look back and say, “You take good care of her now.”
I go back to the coffee shop, order another espresso hoping that this time I can finish it as I await my next adventure.