12 May 2008

Death

Calls for unresponsive patients first thing in the morning are usually cardiac arrests that have just been discovered by friends/family. Frequently, these patients have been dead for quite some time, so there's nothing much for us to do but stand by and wait for the police. I didn't realize how adjusted I have become to such scenes until this week.

We found the patient seated, pants down, on the toilet. He had fallen forward into the door jamb when he died, so his head was about 6" off the floor and his naked rear was waving in the breeze. The firefighters arrived shortly before us, but weren't sure whether or not to start trying to resuscitate the patient because he looked pretty dead, but parts of him were still warm. The Asian and I rolled him over. He rolled as one piece, the expected lividity was in his face and arms, nothing more to be done. The firefighters wanted to clear the scene because an actual fire had been dispatched just after our call, but they didn't want to go downstairs to the family alone. The Asian and all the firefighters went downstairs. I stayed to get the patient's medication list into the laptop and to upload the asystole from the LifePack.

After I was finished, I realized that I had been contentedly working in a room less than 5 feet from a dead guy. Weird. Dead people used to creep me out. Freshly dead people are still patients, so they aren't bad, but if you'd told me two years ago that I wouldn't be on edge being left alone in a room with a corpse, I certainly wouldn't have believed you. I suppose this is a good thing if I ever actually get in to medical school because anatomy lab otherwise might've been a bit difficult.

1 comment:

manchmedic said...

You are so right - I remember the first time I encountered the dead. That was nearly 14 years ago. These days, it just doesn't faze me like I think it should.

One of my mother's uncles (he's in his 90's) made a great point. He said that it is expected to have respect for the dead, but death itself doesn't rate that sort of respect. I'm sure there are people who would disagree with that view, but I don't. Death comes for all of us at some point - why respect it?