When she put the poster in her office (which had, until the day before, been a small closet), I couldn’t help but stare. For National Poetry Month in 2009, the American Academy of Poets put out a beautiful image of these two lines written into the condensation of a piece of glass.
“Do I dare /Disturb the universe?”
T.S. Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is a complicated poem, one whose analysis is way beyond my scope. But I love it.
“Do I dare /Disturb the universe?”
I love that thought. It haunts me.
Mainly, it’s because I find myself asking myself that question all the time. Oftentimes, first responders (regardless of what field – EMS, Fire, Law Enforcement, etc) find themselves in futile situations. Anyone who has ever worked a cardiac arrest at a nursing home will understand what I mean.
“Do I dare /Disturb the universe? / In a minute there is time / For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.”
If only it were that simple. But still, I wonder.
Do I dare?
I’m not trying to brag. In all honesty, I’m a pretty modest guy. But I have good instincts.
At least, I have good instincts in the back of a box. They haven’t really let me down yet. Granted, I don’t have the kind of experience many medics and providers have. But I have enough, combined with my gut, to generally carry me through the day.
The guys I work with know this. I work at a multicompany station. That is, we have a truck company and an engine company. 10 people. Out of these, 90% of our medical calls are handled by myself and FireMedicBA. He has about 3 times the experience I have, but trusts me enough to ask my opinion and evaluation.
Typically, that’s not a problem.
A few weeks ago, while roved out to another station, we were dispatched to a report of a patient suffering from an altered level of consciousness at an assisted living facility. We arrived to find a man in his mid-80s laying on the floor. The nursing staff had found him this way. His blood pressure was well over 200/100, and the medic on the engine I was with (who is a relatively new medic), tried to do a full assessment. I told him we needed to load him up and leave. The arriving ambulance crew agreed. Long story short, our patient ended up being admitted for a massive stroke.
I’ve learned to trust my gut.
Today, I hung around a few extra hours to work for a friend of mine on the next shift.
About an hour in, we catch a run to a local sorority house for a report of an unconscious female in the doorway.
In a college town, this can typically be stereotyped as an inebriated sorority sister. That’s typically what it is when we get there.
Today, though, it was different.
We arrive with the local EMS service to find a young female seated in a chair. She’s pale, diaphoretic, and barely responsive.
She didn’t look drunk. She didn’t look high. But she had the empty, glazed stair of someone very sick.
When we left, one of the firefighters with me asked me what was wrong with her.
I honestly didn’t know.
I figure it was one too many diet pills and one too few waters. But that’s just a guess. What I do know is that she was sick.
And my gut let me down, because I didn’t really have an answer for him.
I composed a long posting over professionalism based on a recent experience I had with an EMS crew in my area.
All it lacks is an ending.
I can’t seem to give it one. I’m not sure if that’s because I can’t really condemn the crew for the way they acted, or if it’s because I’m stuck at the station today and just don’t care enough to finish.
So far today I’ve seen one person having a massive stroke while the staff at the assisted care facility kept passing the buck around as to whose patient he actually was and another lady who’s had four heart attacks, two in the last three weeks, one last Monday, and quite frankly was probably having one today (didn’t get to stick around long enough to see the 12-lead).
So quite frankly, I’m just not feeling it today.
Plus, I tend to miss my wife when I’m at work. Seeing as she’s the only real reason I have a blog, I’m sure that’s a contributing factor to my inability to come up with anything remotely interesting.
C’est la vie.