Thursday, August 10, 2006

Compassion Still Exists

Taken from Sues Views
Sometimes I Wear Dinosaurs
As many of you know, I'm a Respiratory Therapist at a hospital in Southern California. Respiratory Therapists work in every area of the hospital. We work side by side with nurses to take care of people with "breathing problems". This means everything from breathing treatments for asthmatics to ventilators and CPR for those who have stopped breathing or who's hearts have stopped.

Quite a few years ago I was wearing a scrub top with dinosaurs on it. I was in ER that night for a while and we had an 8 year old boy come in with an asthma attack. I'll call him Scott. He'd had asthma all his life and was used to coming into the hospital and getting breathing treatments. He was one of those asthmatics who is so sick all of the time, that they are used to not being able to breathe very well. So he can go too long before he realizes he's in trouble, and his breathing has progressed beyond what is safe.

That is what happened that night. Scott came into the ER and expected to just have a few breathing treatments, an IV and be on his way. Unfortunately it progressed past that and it looked like Scott might have to be put on a ventilator (life support) and sent out to a specailty hospital.

I had Scott on a continous breathing treatment and started him on what we call "heliox"- a mixture of helium and oxgen that makes it easier to breathe when a person is having an asthma attack. I was at the bedside with Scott and his Mom and I told them that I would not leave him until he was OK. I told him that I was going to make him better and that I was going to stay with him and do whatever it took to keep him off of a ventilator.

Scott was in such bad shape that I had told him earlier not to talk and to save his breath for breathing. He held my hand and kept his eyes on me while I talked to him. The nurses hung IV's....... the X-ray tech took his x-ray....... the doctor came and went. And all the while I stood by Scott and talked him through it all.

The heliox did the trick and soon Scott was breathing so much better that he was finally able to fall asleep. He was so exhausted from working so hard to breathe for so long that his little body just wanted to sleep. Just before he dozed off, he told me that he loved dinosaurs and that he was going to tell his toy dinosaurs at home that he met a "Dinosaur Lady" and she saved him.

It was all I could do to keep the tears from falling as Scott dozed off and I looked up at his Mom. I told her that Scott was going to be OK now and that I would be back to check on him in a little while.

We still sent Scott to that specialty hospital, but he wasn't on a ventilator.

I still have that dinosaur scrub top after all these years, and I still wear it to work sometimes. Everytime I wear it, it seems that someone asks me about it. I think back to that boy Scott and I smile and I just say to them that, "Sometimes I wear dinosaurs".