“This is EMS. You’re getting a 9-year old boy in traumatic arrest after a direct blow to the chest with a baseball. He’s intubated; we’ll be there in 2 minutes. ” My hands shook when I replaced the EMS notification phone.
The baseball stunned our patient’s heart, and it was being squeezed to life by the frantic efforts of the paramedics. A nightmare coming to our doorsteps.
We stood at the bedside and shared each other’s anger. The thought of the carnage this man left behind made me recoil in disgust. I felt a need to cry; bile rose up in my throat. Even in repose, this man’s face looked so evil, almost satanic. Despite all the repulsion I felt, I had no choice; I had to take care of this patient. My training and my ethical responsibility will ensure that I give this patient the best of care, no matter what.
I became a nurse and came face to face with the harsh realities of death. Suddenly, the finality of it forced me to see us as the mortals we are. I dealt with my patients’ dying by maintaining a “qué será será” attitude. It didn’t mean losing my humanity; it didn’t mean that I cared less for my patients. It just meant survival for me in a profession that sees a lot of suffering and death.