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Sunday, March 25, 2012

don't judge a book by its cover

She looked like a 1960's reject. Long hair, parted in the middle. Granny glasses. In her late 50's. She had called 911 for herself somehow. When she got there she was incoherent. Medics only knew her first name, they got her last name from 911 which listed her at that address.

If you called her name, she would say "huh". That was about it. Couldn't answer questions, follow commands. My first thought was, as a veteran cynical ER nurse: she's on something. Couldn't answer whether she had been taking drugs.

She looked okay. Breathing OK. Vitals signs stable. The only thing was, she kept asking: AM I GOING TO DIE? AM I GOING TO DIE? I told her no. When someone asks you if they are going to die, what are you gonna say: yes, you are going to die? I'm not sure... Of course you are going to tell them they aren't going to die.

Periodically she would become more coherent, then less coherent. Did a CT scan, labs. See where this is going: Yup, she had a big brain tumor. No doubt inoperable. Turns out she is going to die. Not that day, but in the very near future. Its really, really sad. I wonder what her life was like.

2 comments:

Chris said...

I had a crazy grandmother - I mean batsh*t crazy as long as I can remember. Family doctor treated her bad headaches, nosebleeds that required hospitalization, etc. with narcotics (this was in the 70s). Turns out she had a HUGE brain tumor that was making her nuts. Had been growing forever, old fart family doc had no clue.

MJ said...

You mean you never tell anyone they are going to die? I was on my way to the ER to meet my ob/gyn with my husband driving when I realized I might not make it to that ER which was 30 miles away. He called 911. Ambulance picked me up and on seeing my bp and heartrate told me I was dying and rushed me to a closer ER that was 3 miles away and nowhere near equipped to deal with me. The ER doctor and nurses were panicked. I was told no less than 3 times I was dying. The word cardiomyopathy was being tossed around. I knew what that meant. Finally got me transferred to the other hospital. More doctors and nurses telling me I very likely would die. Actual diagnosis was congestive heart failure due to excess fluid around heart and lungs probably related to my pregnancy and c-section few days prior. But the blood pressure reading had them stumped. It wouldn't come down no matter what they did. Finally, they told me I was out of the woods, and they were letting me go home. With that news, my bp went back to normal. Maybe you need to school the healthcare community around here that telling a young mom she's probably going to die amidst cardiac problems is not going to help the situation any.