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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Cancer Wins Again

When calls come in around 6 in the morning I always think the same thing. Someone woke up to find so and so dead.

While I shook the cobwebs out of my brain dispatch informed us that we were responding for a possible DOA. In situations like this my mind used to wander through ACLS protocols but not any more. After a while things become automatic, like riding a bicycle or driving a car.

We silently (well, as silently as an 80,000 pound truck with a powerful diesel motor gets) moved through the predawn streets with our emergency lights on. There was no need to wake anyone if we didn't have to.

At the house we were directed by a somber couple to the back bedroom. They said they had found her this morning and called immediately. They also provided us with a DNR.

In bed I found what was to have been my patient. The body of a woman in her mid 30's lying motionless and lifeless. I first checked for a pulse knowing that I wouldn't find one. I then checked for one of the obvious signs of death (more out of habit than anything else. The DNR meant that there were to be no resuscitation efforts) I then placed the electrodes on the body and checked 2 leads to make sure the patient was in asystole.

Afterwards we removed the electrodes and covered the body. We found out that the woman was a niece of the couple that let us in. She had been staying with them while she fought cancer. Then, when she knew the battle had been lost, had decided to stay with them until the end.

We asked if we could call someone. The aunt and uncle had already contacted hospice care. A few minutes later we were on our way to Starbucks. As long as we were already up.....
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