I know that I have probably assisted in saving a few lives in my career as a family physician. However, there is nothing like having someone’s life literally in your hands and this was one of those days I still reflect on and thankful for what I do as a profession.
I was about 7 months pregnant and working the evening shift in a metropolitan medical center as a General Practitioner. I had just finished having my afternoon break and was on my way back to see my evening patients when one of the receptionists asked me for some assistance. She had been notified by a passerby that someone had fallen outside the clinic and she was pushing the wheelchair to go and see what was going on. As we strolled over to where there was now a few people standing in the middle of the road, I could hear someone saying “Sir, keep your eyes open and stay with me”. I immediately thought “F*ck, Fu*k” and quickly waddled my pregnant self to the scene where an elderly gentleman was lying lifeless in the middle of the road bleeding from his forehead.
I immediately went into doctor mode, instructed a passerby to call the ambulance, got the receptionist to call more staff to help, did a basic assessment and started doing chest compressions (CPR). I should add, it was nothing like the one illustrated on the above cartoon image, in case you were wondering. Here I was, kneeling in the middle of the road which was really wet as it had been raining that day, with a huge belly, singing “Row Row your boat” to keep count of the chest compressions and trying not to shit myself waiting for more help.
After a few minutes doing solo compressions and silently praying for the man not to die, I could finally hear sirens and knew that more help was on the way. Soon the firemen with their big muscley arms had taken over doing the compressions and I could try and recollect my thoughts and give them a handover of the situation I had found myself in. The ambulance was soon also at the scene, the road cordoned off and a mini emergency room set up in the middle of the road as they tried to stabilise the patient before transfer to hospital.
I quickly dried my pants and retreated back into the medical center to see my patients who had apparently been impatiently getting mad at the receptionists for not being seen on time despite the lights and sirens they could clearly see and hear from the waiting room. I completed my evening shift and headed home where the emotions took over as I cried, recalling and finally processing the events of the evening as I debriefed with hubby. The following day, I found out that the elderly man had survived and was admitted to intensive care. I got to meet his lovely wife the next day who couldn’t stop expressing how grateful she was for our actions as well as stroking my obviously humongous baby bump.
As I reflect today on that day years ago, I am eternally grateful for the skills I have attained in my medical training and the ability I had to make such a big difference in the man’s life. I am also appreciative of the little changes I am able to contribute to my patients’ lives daily as I continuously work on collecting brownie points to heaven.
*Some names and locations changed to protect the patient and staff
*Image from Google