Several months ago, however, I experienced a case that threw my entire system into sheer turmoil and threw my qi right out of alignment. Or something.
There are three B's in the trauma arena that I just don't do: bones, burns, and babies. I let the orthopaedic surgeons do bones, I transfer any burn victims to the local burn centre, and any injured children are supposed to be taken to the local children's trauma centre. Yes, I said "supposed to", so if you're reading between the lines, you can probably see where this is going.
After a full day of mostly uninteresting patients, I was just sitting down to eat a sandwich (meatball, of course) when my pager went off. Meh, probably another elderly person who fell and bonked her head, I thought.
"HAHA not even close, jackass!" the Call Gods laughed. "Try a gunshot wound! Level 1! In the trauma bay now! Put the sandwich down."
Damn you, Call Gods. Damn every one of you.
A "trauma in the trauma bay NOW" call usually means a family member or friend (or occasionally an ambulance) drove the patient in, and the triage nurse upgraded the patient to a trauma on arrival. When it's a "gunshot wound in the trauma bay NOW", it usually means a car drove up to the emergency entrance, pushed a gang member with several new holes in him out the car door, and sped away.
If only it were something that mundane.
I ran down to the trauma bay, and what greeted me was a crowd of approximately 195 people milling about. I pushed my way through the throng and what I saw made my mouth go dry and my heart sink: a little boy about my daughter's age with a bullet hole in his forehead.
WHAT. THE. HELL. IS. THIS, I thought to myself as I tried to force out of my head the image of one of my children lying on a gurney like this.
Despite the chaos I managed to compose myself and get the story from one of the police officers in the room. He had found the child on the ground at a local park, and instead of waiting for an ambulance, he picked the boy up, put him in his car, and drove him directly to the hospital.
I couldn't get the picture of my children out of my mind.
The little boy was still breathing and his heart was beating, but he was obviously in very bad shape. We inserted a breathing tube and took him straight to the CT scanner, where I saw exactly what I was hoping not to see: the bullet entered his forehead and went through most of the right side of his brain before stopping in his occipital lobe. His brain was already swelling dramatically, and there was almost no space left for it to go.
My son . . . my daughter . . . lying on the ground . . .
My hands were shaking.
I got on the phone immediately with the local children's trauma centre and told them the story, and they said they would send a team immediately to pick him up. As I hung up the phone and sat down, the raw emotions flooded over me like a tidal wave washing over a defenseless beach. I looked at one of my assistants who looked like she was about to cry too. Fortunately for the sake of the boy's mother (whom I had just brought into the trauma bay), both of us were able to keep our composure.
If anyone has ever wondered why I only treat adults, now you know.
The minute I got home the next morning I grabbed both of my children, hugged them, kissed them, and told them over and over again how much I love them. They both seemed very confused why Daddy wouldn't let them go, but I finally let them wriggle free after I was sure they knew. Even Mrs. Bastard started crying when I told her about it.
It takes a lot to get me riled up, but cases like these shake me to my very core and make me appreciate what (and who) I have that much more.