Saturday, October 14, 2006

And not really a good story, at that.

*big sigh* I'm not sure you all want to read about this, so if you're especially sensitive or not in the mood for a real bummer, please stop reading now.

Friday night, I was at Restaurant. The night was going along fine, although at around 5:30 or 6:00 I started feeling really light-headed and kinda queasy. But, I couldn't just say, "Hey Boss, I don't feel well, so I'm going to go home, ok?" I just stayed. I didn't really feel "sick" per se, I just didn't feel quite right. But anyway, I kept trucking along.

We weren't especially busy Friday, although we had a party of 12 that I waited on. I also waited on a bunch of twos and a few fours and what not. Well, I had my party of 12 all watered, coffeed, and soda-popped. They also had their food. I then had a couple to wait on. At Restaurant, the tables are set up in rows. On the left hand side of the room are tables L1-L5. Then there is row M1-M4 in the middle, and R1-R3 on the right hand side. So, I was waiting on a couple at L2. I had given them their drinks and they ordered and I had just taken their menus when I heard a loud crash at L1 (approximately 10 feet away from me). I looked at this man who looked like he was having a seizure. A few people started murmuring and I threw the menus back down on L2 and dropped my order book into my apron. I ran over to the wife of this man and I said, "Do you need us to call an ambulance?" (Thinking maybe he was epileptic and would snap out of it in a moment and not want the added 'embarrassment' of having had to call the bus). The wife said, "Yes, I think maybe you should." So, I ran into the bar room and said, "Boss, call 911 right now. There's a man in there who needs an ambulance!" I would have called myself, but the phone in the kitchen hasn't been charging and wasn't working at all. So, Boss calls 911 and I run back into the dining room. The man is upright in his chair and his eyes are open, but he is not responding. All of a sudden, someone says, "Does anyone know CPR?!" I say, "I do." So, it seems that all eyes are on me. I think back to my First Aid days and I say, "We need to get him straight on the floor with his head tilted back to establish an airway!" So, the man who was closest grabbed onto this guy and we get him on the floor. By that time, the wife is crying and some other patrons are trying to console her. So, this guy is on the floor and I say, "Tilt his head and listen, look and feel if he's breathing. The guy who lifted him to the floor did that while I put my fingers on his neck to see if he had a pulse. The guy said, "Yeah, I can hear breathing, but it's really shallow. Another woman said, "I feel a pulse" (in his wrist) and I felt a pulse in his neck. Someone says, "Do you need to do CPR?!" And I say, "No. He has a pulse and he's breathing. If we do CPR, we'll hurt him. You can't do CPR so long as they have a pulse. So, by that time, a whole bunch of people are kinda standing around looking at what's going on. Someone from the kitchen brought me a cool washcloth and I (not wanting to put my fingers into an unresponsive man's mouth) try to get the little pieces of food off of his slightly protruding tongue. He didn't have big pieces of food in his mouth, so I don't worry too much about choking, but I wipe him off a little bit in case I was going to have to start rescue breathing. I had realized that he was in fact, probably not having a seizure, but more likely a stroke or heart attack.

So, this man is laying on the floor. I'm kneeling next to him, checking his pulse in his neck, another woman is monitoring his pulse in his wrist, and the man who was helping us kept his face down to make sure the guy was still breathing. Every couple of minutes he would breathe in deep, but then he'd go shallow again. I turn to the wife and say, "Does he take nitro?" She says, "No." Then I hear a woman who had been at the table right next to theirs say, "I have nitro!" I say, "We can't use it if it's not prescribed to him." So we're all there monitoring him. Then, I look up and see this cop standing there, so I move away, thinking he would want to take charge. About the time the cop showed up, people said, "Here are the EMTs" SO I definitely hauled it away from there. I know enough not to try to be a hero and get in the way of EMTS. Unfortunately, the EMTs hadn't actually come IN to the restaurant yet. They had just arrived out front. But they were in very expeditiously. When I left that man, he had a pulse and a heartbeat; although both were weak. And I went into the kitchen to get out of the way. I turn in the order I took right before all this begins. I tell the cook that the food on the counter can't go out right now because it's too the table right next to where the EMTs are about to start working. I look out the kitchen door into the dining room and I see them doing CPR on the guy and then I go out and kind of make sure my customers are doing ok. I didn't know what else to do at that point. Oh yeah, for sanitation's sake, you'll be happy to know as soon as I stepped away from the man, I did go wash my hands thoroughly. About that time, I heard them say, "NO one come near the cot right now." And they shocked him. And they loaded him onto the stretcher and I could see them doing CPR some more and the one EMT telling the wife that they would do everything they could for him.

In the meantime of all this happening, people are using cell phones like crazy trying to find this couple's daughter and son in law. Being from Podunk, I know Daughter and SiL, although I don't know the couple. The wife is sitting there crying and all her consolers have kind of left and I go up to her and say, "Ma'am, do you need anything at all?" and she says, "No, dear. Thank you for your kindness." Then I hear, "D and SiL are going to meet them in HospitalTown." HospitalTown is about 20 minutes away from Podunk, by the way. So the EMTs left and we got everything cleaned up and people were basically stunned and I'm fairly certain upset about what had happened. And I was praying like crazy for that man, and wondering how we would find out if he made it or not.

After they took him, I floated around to the tables to try to calm my nerves (I was physically shaking by that time) when I went back and saw this group who comes in fairly regularly. I said, "How are you all doing back here? Need more tea or water or anything?" And they said, "We're fine. How are you? We saw you jump to action over there." I replied that I was fine, and then I went about doing other things. At the end of the night, I went to Sis's house, as per usual on Fridays because I try to spend weekends there. Needless to say, I didn't sleep real well.

Saturday morning rolls around and I wake up before my alarm goes off. I was having bad dreams, I think. I hear an ambulance go by a few streets down. All of a sudden, Nise comes into "my" room and says, "Trish, you need to get up. We need to go to the hospital." I bolt upright in bed and say, "WHY!?" (thinking the ambulance took someone I know and love) She said, "Mom had to go to the ER. She's having some bleeding." So, we got up, got ready, and left. On the way out of town, we saw Daughter and SiL's van at the funeral home. I guess the man didn't make it. Damn, I feel useless.

You all might be surprised to know that this is not the first time I've attempted to help someone in cardiac duress. When I was 12, I was riding in the car with my younger sister, our friend, and our dad. We had been running some errands when we had a flat tire. Dad got out to fix it and decided that before we went to "town" he needed to clean up. On the way home, he had a heart attack. Because I was in the front seat, I had to get the car stopped before we hit oncoming traffic. I put us in the ditch and Sis and Friend got out. I stayed and tried to give CPR. I didn't know CPR back then though. Dad died that day.

Ever since then, I've had periods where I feel tremendously guilty about not being able to help. I always vowed that if anyone ever had a heart attack in my presence again, I'd do my best to help them. Well, again, it didn't work. And I feel guilty, again. I want to talk to the daughter and tell her that I'm sorry that I couldn't help her dad, but I don't think I could handle it if she was mad at me for not doing more. Deep down, I know that we did all we could to help, but it's still a sore spot for me.

I'm just sad about the whole thing.

1 comment:

RuthRE said...

Wow. I've no doubt (as i read) that this is really getting to you and will be tough to get over.

I think you intellectually understand this....but you know it's not your fault. The EMT's had much more in their arsenal and couldn't save this man. I imagine it had to be major.

As for your father, I am so sorry, that has got to be the toughest thing you've experienced in your life. I can't imagine. I really can't. I could definately see how this recent incident would bring back some very raw emotion from your youth....perhaps even unresolved emotion.

Just realize that in each incident that you did the best you could. You were ready to give that man CPR if the proper conditions occurred....years ago you saved your sister and friend by controlling the car...and if you'd had the tools to do so you'd have done what you could with them for your father....but it was out of your control...both things.

Take heart that you care so much, and that God loves you as much as you care for others.