12 June 2007

Motion sickness

One of the most common questions I get from non-ambulance people is "Don't you get carsick?" Generally, no. I don't find that riding, reading, or writing in the ambulance gives me much trouble. I've always been able to read and relax in vehicles without too much trouble. Riding contrary to the direction of travel hasn't really added too many problems. Sometimes if I already have a headache, being stuck in a small space with an annoying and/or smelly patient will about try my patience and make my head thump louder, but carsick isn't really the problem. I've never really had motion sickness on water either, although I think that is partly because I don't generally go boating too much and I definitely don't go in nasty weather.

There have been two notable exceptions though. Both were VERY long transfers (in excess of two hours) on windy Vermont roads through hilly areas. For some reason the combination of winding left and right with the up and down of the hillsides is enough to turn me green. Generally, we've been well over an hour by the time we hit these stretches of road, so I've got nothing much to do for the patient. I've been through their paperwork, done as much of my paperwork as I can, and I'm probably out of small talk. All I notice is being sloshed back and forth, up and down, over and over again.

On both trips, by the time we made it to the hospital, I was ready to run through the hallways, toss the patient in the nearest empty bed, and make a run for the restroom. This, of course, is unacceptable behavior. We must walk through the hospital, find the correct room, find the correct nurse, settle the patient, sort out paperwork, and then politely ask directions to the restroom. All while trying desperately not to vomit all over a hospital I've never been to in order to avoid leaving a bad impression.

Could I just be sick in the ambulance? I could. Aren't there various contraptions there for capturing vomit? Yes, there are. But no matter how much vomit you get into a container, the smell always escapes. And lingers. And lingers. I don't relish being sick in the first place, but having to smell it the entire 2+ hour drive back to the station is more than I can handle.

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