About two hours ago I saw something in my EMS career that I hadn’t seen before. And I’m still shaking my head over it.
We had a transport out of one of the hospitals I don’t get to very often. A large, major hospital, located in Boston not too far from Government Center. We were taking a patient – a 70 year-old male – to an area acute rehab hospital. This gentleman (I am using the word quite loosely; read on and you’ll see where I’m going with that) had fallen out of a chair and struck his head. He’d been sent over to be evaluated, mainly to rule out a head bleed.
It was my partner Jenn’s turn to tech. I did the previous call for a female in her mid-50’s coming out of our hospital (the BI) going to this same rehab facility. My patient had a tracheostomy that needed to be suctioned out multiple times due to a huge amount of secretions she was producing. Jenn’s patient – this elderly man – had similar problems as well as a long and rather complicated medical history, including renal calculi that required him to be on dialysis.
We got to our patient and discovered a rather small man with an unusually round head and a countenance to match. He appeared to me to be a rather angry little man – turned out he really was afflicted with one of the “midget disorders”, for lack of a better term. I forget the clinical name for what he had, but it manifested itself with a few physical traits that I’ve already mentioned, including the small stature and an unusually round head. Additionally, there was shortening of the fourth and fifth digits of each hand. Plus, there were a number of other things that he had, including a mild case of mental retardation.
This did not stop him, however – he kept trying to climb out of the stretcher once he was secured. The most interesting part of this call, however, was that he was totally enamored with Jenn.
This isn’t terribly difficult to understand; Jenn is a rather attractive female with an outgoing personality and a great way of interacting with patients. Aside from her clinical competence (she’s also quite intelligent), this is one of the main reasons I really enjoy working with her. Between the two of us we can usually calm anyone down. With her, it’s all about personality. With me, it’s a little of that plus some intimidation when necessary – a good thing to have when you’re over six feet tall and weigh 275 pounds. I’m told that I can get your attention when I need to…
My point about that is that we work well together. And we have fun.
Anyway, after a little bit of work we managed to get the patient packaged for transport and loaded aboard the ambulance for the trip to the rehab facility. Almost immediately he needed to have his airway suctioned because of secretions. Jenn got it done and told me we were clear to go. And once I got underway, it was like a party was going on in the back of the ambulance for the 15 or so minutes it took us to get there.
From what I could see, the patient got a grip on Jenn’s hand and would not let go for dear life. At one point I think he groped her, but I’m not sure – if he did she was good at dealing with him because when we got to the rehab she was still in his grasp. At the same time, however, he was eating out of the palm of her hand, so to speak. And this, in my opinion, was a really good thing because I don’t think he liked me very much. Mainly because of my size; I think I either really scared him or just made him angry. He did have the “angry man” look going on whenever I had to deal with him, which makes me think that was what was going on. And one time I had to actually ease him back onto the stretcher because he tried to climb off. Not a good idea considering we had the stretcher raised to its full height.
When we got there he didn’t want to let her go. The staff thought it was pretty funny too. And I suppose it was, at least for the two of them. It’s also good that she took care of him as I have no doubt I would have gotten a very different reception that the one she received.
I guess the biggest thing I took away from this was that he’s still alive at age 70. Regardless of the incredible number of medical problems this man has, to still be alive (and causing mischief) is a feat in itself.
Good for him.