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Like any profession, working in pre-hospital emergency medicine has its ups and downs. Some days you get to save lives, some days you get to give lazy people a $500 taxi ride to the hospital. But hey, that’s just the nature of the job— it can’t be exciting all the time.
I mean, I wish it were because I’m all about excitement. And if you don’t think I can handle danger, then you really must not know much about me. I manscape every last follicle of hair on my body just to make myself more aerodynamic when I’m providing medical care, so yeah, I guess you could say I can handle danger.
But I digress. Not only does pre-hospital emergency medicine have its highs and lows, it also allows for some very interesting human interactions. It’s a far different environment than those of you out there wallowing away in cubeville are used to experiencing.
Have you walked around your town lately? Things are wild out there. Whenever you get annoyed by Joan from accounting stealing that coconut water you left in the fridge with your name clearly labeled on it, or maybe your cube neighbor who decides that your waste basket is also there for their own trash, just remember the following story:
One day early on in my career I was having a rather uneventful day when we received a call for an ambulance. The neighborhood the call came from wasn’t exactly the nicest part of town. I hadn’t been to this area before, but I had been told about it so I was interested to see what it was all about (you know, since I live for danger).
I shit you not this place looked like it was straight out of the Stiches “Brick In Yo Face” video. Author’s note: if you are unfamiliar with current rap sensation Stitches, then you need to get out of your cave and immerse yourself in his art. Immediately go to Youtube and get on that. I would start with “Brick In Yo Face” and then follow that up with “Molly Cyrus”. You can thank me later.
So yeah, this was a pretty shitty neighborhood. I put on my pair of nitrile gloves, grabbed my aid bag, exited the vehicle, and made my way to the scene. Before I can even reach the patient some genius with an extra chromosome runs up to me screaming “He’s got the sugars, man! My friend! He’s got the sugars!”
Ok, so automatically I’m thinking this patient is hypoglycemic or having some sort of diabetic emergency. After finally reaching the patient, I noticed the guy was sprawled out on his back, just kind of laying there on the ground. When I get closer to him so I can check for responsiveness I saw something I have never seen before or since this particular interaction. The guy’s entire face was caked with sugar. Like it looked like someone dumped an entire bag of Domino sugar on this dude’s face.
I glanced back at his friend with an expression that could only translate to “WTF mate?” He just responded with the same “He got the sugars man! You gotta help him!” So, like a professional I turned my attention back to the patient. I performed a simple airway maneuver and opened his mouth. Now, sometimes when I inspect airways I find spit or broken teeth that I need to remove, but not this time. Oh no, this time I found something much more exotic: half of a Snickers bar.
I immediately removed the candy bar, which was slimy and gross and kinda looked like that Baby Ruth bar those pesky caddies put in the pool in Caddyshack. It was like his friend tried to shove the Snickers bar in the dude’s mouth and mechanically chew it for him with his hands. Except half of it was missing.
I held the disgusting piece of chocolate in the air, looked back at the friend and said, “Do I even want to know where the other half of this Snickers bar is?” He didn’t have a response. I figured it was best to just leave it at that.
This type of situation is what we in the emergency medicine biz refer to as a “load and go” scenario. At this point a crowd, of whom I could only assume were not, in fact, medical professionals, was starting to gather which is always fun. We loaded the patient onto the ambulance, drove to the hospital, and handed them off to the ER. No one had much to say during the ride.
Now, when you’re sitting at your desk and you hear that Nancy from HR brought in a Snickers cake for some guy named Gary who you think works in sales but aren’t really sure, just remember my tale. The next time you’re in the break room wondering who the asshole is that left the Keurig with barely enough water for a goldfish to fit in, leaving you to fill up the container so you can have that caffeine we all need to get through the day, remember my story before you add those three massive spoonfuls of sugar I know you put in your coffee.
For me, I now stick to black coffee and chocolate that only comes in little pieces I can break apart. Some things just can’t be unseen..
Image via Shutterstock