Tuesday, May 02, 2006

One's Mind Wanders

A man died on the surgical floor the other day. I took the call to run the code and it went on and on and on. We did not succeed in resuscitating him.

During the code we went through most of the Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) algorithms but to no avail. We performed CPR for almost an hour (not a one person job), and there were nursing students in the room. This was a great learning opportunity for them so we had every one of them take their turn learning the proper CPR technique.

Now I was not the only male in the room but I didn't dare make eye contact with any of the others. You see, it just so happened that these particular students were all young and female and fit. All of them were a bit small too so they had to get up on the bed and straddle the patient in order to create enough downward force to compress this gentleman's chest.

It was a bit disconcerting for me and I couldn't really watch them (I let the senior nurse in the room advise them of their technical skills or flaws). Out of the corner of my eye though, between looking at the monitor, repeating the cardiac ultrasound, and ordering medicines I noticed a strange picture.

There's just no nice way to say this but if I had been looking in the window and hadn't seen the patient or the other 10 people in the room I would have been forced to conclude that a lucky patient was getting quite special treatment. I say this to my shame, but in retrospect it encapsulates how many times humor, death, life, and sex do a strange little dance every day in the world of medicine.

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