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Friday, June 20, 2008

What's a humble RT to say to a suicide attempt?

When I get called to ER to do an EKG, it's rare that I know anything about the patient before I go into the room. But it doesn't take long to figure things out.

All I knew from the point of entering the room was that she was a nice looking 23 YO female who had been crying lying on the ER bed of room three.

I pushed my machine to the back of the bed and provided my humble presentation. "Hi, I'm Rick from cardiopulmonary, I'm here to do an EKG. It's quick and painless"

"Why do I need that?" She asked without looking up at me.

"It's just to check out your heart?"

"I can tell you my heart is fine."

"Are you having chest pain?"

"No. My heart is fine."

Grasping at straws here, I said, "The doctor wants me to check out your heart. It's routine for what you came here for." I had no idea what she was here for, but I knew she did. To be honest, by this point I didn't' want to know.

"There's nothing wrong with my heart."

"I have to put stickers here, here and here," I said, pointing to areas on her chest where I would need to lift her shirt. "I can keep you covered." At this point I thought she might refuse at any moment.

"Yeah, I don't care if you see me. I don't care about anything anymore." I stared placing my stickers where I needed them, never exposing her out of respect for the young lady.

"You don't have to tell me. I don't care about anything!" She paused, then added, "I don't want to be here."

"I know what you mean." I said.

"You don't know what I mean."

Ah, how stupid. This is why I usually keep my mouth shut.

"My only regret," she continued, "was that I didn't take more. I knew I should have taken more."

What do you say to someone who tried to kill themselves. Knowing what to say is something beyond my scope of expertise, and is usually why I keep my mouth shut, do the job I'm ordered to do, and leave the room.

She's going to be admitted, I decided. And by law she was going to be kept back in the psyche unit for at least three days. And I'm certain the doctors will talk to her about this. But what if they can't talk her out of doing it again.

"Do you have children" I said.

"Yes, I have three."

"Won't your children be sad if their mommy wasn't here no more?" While she was preocupied in thought, I pushed the button on my machine.

"They live with their dad."

"Still, won't they miss you. Don't they love their mommy?"

"I don't care about anything anymore."

The nurse came back in as I was pealing my stickers off the patient. "As soon as Rick is done with you the police are going to come in and talk with you."

"I don't want to talk with them. I don't like police."

"They are really nice guys," the nurse said. "Remember, you promised me you would cooperate with all the good people who want to come in and help you."

"I don't want help," the patient said. When I go home I'm just going to do this again, and I will succeed this time."

On that note, I wheeled my machine out the door. This was another reminder to myself how well off I have it.

I always thought that if I was ever having suicide thoughts I wouldn't do it because I'd always be thinking about how much I would hurt the people who do love me, most particularly my kids. Man, could you imagine what that would do to kids.

But that's just me. However, as I am reminded from time to time, when you are really depressed, you don't think straight. And you do stupid things. You don't think that killing yourself is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

However, my initial impression about this young lady is she was seeking attention. I will never know for sure. Either way, and even though she said otherwise, I hope that she thinks about what I said to her. I hope she doesn't do it again for her kids sakes if nothing else.

But what do I know.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ah Rick. Brings back ollllld memories. I stopped RC practice in 94. Do fancy pants research stuff now. Make tons more money. Would not know how to work on a holiday, week-end, after sunset, if I tried. Travel 15 cities a month. Expense accounts and I don't hjave to seel didly tongs. But, never, ever feel as fulfilled as I did, when I busted snot, 3 twelves a week and one extra for good measure. You know?

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