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Monday, July 6, 2009

He almost drank himself to death

The page said the ambulance was 5 minutes out, but when I arrived 2 minutes later the patient was being wheeled in. He was a 20 YO non responsive. He reeked of alcohol. The family said he had between 20 and 40 beers at a family outing.

He did not respond to the testicular squeeze the doctor performed -- not good.

He did not respond to the chest rub, nor the foot rub -- not good.

I prepared the ETT and the doctor stuck the blade into his mouth, and the patient gagged. That was a good sign. In fact, the patient gagged enough that the good doc wisely deferred sticking the tube into the young man's airway.

As the blade was extracted from the patient's mouth, the patient started to spew lots of secretions, and for fear he might puke we were all ready to turn the board sideways. The worse news was the direction they were planning to tilt was in my direction.

"Let's get him some Zophran," I heard someone say. I prayed that stuff worked fast, because I hate puke. I especially hate puke when it's coming my way and there's nothing I can do to get out of the way.

The good news is he did not puke. The better news was he was still breathing. So, because he had fallen and hit his head, we rushed him to CT. The results showed no bleed and no spinal injury, which was also good.

The EKG I did upon his return showed ST elevation, though. That was not good. While he escaped head and neck trauma, he may have drank himself into an MI at 20 -- once again, not good.

But he was breathing on his own, that was good. And he was waking up. The first words were of the sorts that cannot be repeated. And his parents came in and said he was a 4.0 student who was just having a good time with his friends and family.

I imagine he won't be drinking for a while. Once I deemed my services would no longer be needed, I left the ER. In the hall I ran into the good doctor. He said, "A person is considered drunk when his ethanol level is 80. This young man's ethanol level was 476."

Hopefully the EKG was just a fluke thing, and all this man will suffer is a major 2-3 day hangover. I can't imagine it will last much less than that. I've been drunk a few times in my day, but there always comes a point when my body says enough is enough.

Social drinking is good to do if you can handle it, and you can do so with a degree of responsibility. Apparently this man couldn't handle it, nor the responsibility. There comes a point when common sense must prevail, 4.0 GPA or not.

1 comment:

keepbreathing said...

Ah, drunks...they make life interesting. I think that part of the learning process is finding your limits, but infortunately some people far exceed them before they get a chance to learn what they are. C'est la vive.