Death and ATV’s

May 24, 2009

Sorry for the recent absence, but I’m back now. And what better way to get back into gear after being on vacation than to work Memorial Day Weekend! I should have my head examined.

ATV – All Terrain Vehicles, or as I like to call them, four-wheeled death machines. I hate ATV’s and wish they would be banned. I have seen too many tragic consequences from them and think the risk-fun ratio is just way too high. I like to have fun as much as the next person, but when people start dying, we need to take a time out and reassess. My first bad patient experience was my first year out of residency when the respiratory therapist that i work with brought her son in DOA (Dead on Arrival) after he was riding behind his brother who hit a tree. Unfortunately no helmets were worn. This weekend though brought on more sadness.

23 year old woman, drunk, riding an ATV at night runs into a barbed wire line at speed. The wire cut into her belly, removed the right kidney from its blood supply (a big hose), lacerated her liver and spleen and cut some intestine. She went immediately to surgery and bled to death on the table.

30 year old woman, majorly drunk, riding an ATV in daylight and rolls it in a field. She suffers multiple spine fractures, lacerated spleen and liver as well and dislocates her hip. Ouch! She survives surgery, but quality of life after this accident will be questionable. She will have pain everyday for the rest of her life I imagine.

Please, if you read this post and either ride an ATV or know someone that does, make sure they always wear a helmet and that they don’t drive after even one drink. If you can send the whole thing to a junk heap to be crushed that would be even better. You can have fun in far safer ways. Have a safe weekend please.

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The Most Widely Used Anti-Depressant

May 4, 2009

Oh, how this video summarizes the case of so many ER patients.

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The Bottle’s Been Going Down

April 27, 2009

liquor_lockAlcohol. Too many stories, hard to know where to start. I have so many things to say about alcohol, but too tired at the end of this shift to start. But I think you might enjoy this little tale from today’s smorgasboard of delinquents.

Ms. Weetod, someone I have come to know very well, comes in today with her parents for uncontrollable nausea and vomiting. Usually these patients, the ones with uncontrollable nausea and vomiting, are snacking on chips and drinking a soda (or like Nurse K’s patient – eating a double cheeseburger) , but not Ms. Weetod. She’s 45 and living with Mom and Dad because she sunk her life down the toilet with all the liquor she’s had all her life. I saw her last week when she had a seizure in Wal-mart and she told me that she hadn’t drank for a month, that she was cleaning up her act. That’s what you might call confabulation (the replacement of a gap in a person’s memory by a lie that he or she believes to be true).

So today her parents tell me that they are “very concerned” about her vomiting and that she must be very sick. Now I don’t ever drink and have never gone to a bar, so I usually have a tough time with the smell of alcohol on a person’s breath. But after she breathed in my general direction,  I was already feeling a little lightheaded. But the parents said that she couldn’t have been drinking. So, I decided to check an alcohol level in addition to all the other usual suspects.

Low and behold, her EtOH level comes back at about .360 – close to five times the legal limit depending on what state you’re in for those who are unfamiliar with alcohol readings. Now I personally would have probably been dead at .30, and rigor mortis at .35. Granted this is not the highest I have ever seen – I think that would be .460 in someone who also remarkably happened to be awake. The human interest side of this story is not the height of her alcohol level, but the poor gullable people she was living with these days – good old Mom and Dad.

Knowing that I would be shattering their hopes, I bravely walked into the room. She immediately told me, “I feel so sick!” I couldn’t help it and replied, “Maybe you should stop hitting the alcohol.” Dad – with a look of shock on his face – says, “Alcohol? Where are you getting it from?” She tries to lie and says nowhere, so I casually mentioned how her alcohol level was enough to snocker everyone else in the room. Then Dad comes out with his classic, never-will-forget-this-one remark that showed just how honest and innocent this Mid-west couple was. He says:

So that’s why my bottle has been going down! (meaning the level of alcohol in his bottles had been mysteriously decreasing over the past few days) 

I’m not sure if he thought it was evaporating or what exactly?  But I didn’t have the heart to tell the old guy that not only was the bottle level going down, but that in reality, he was probably missing a few bottles at that. The awesome nurse that discharged him told them what they needed to hear though by saying that they needed to get rid of all the alcohol in the house. Guess I don’t need to tell you though about the dirty look she got from our dear Ms. Weetod who was clearly unhappy that we were getting into her private goldmine. Either that, or Dad needs to put a lock on his liquor.