written monday, may 29th 2006 after working all night in an inner city chicago emergency department. i entitled it: did you hear me?
did you hear me?
to the man that presented to me dead on arrival. we intubated you, gave you 3 rounds of epi, followed by 3 rounds of atropine, continued cpr and the whole time you were in pea (pulseless electrical activity; this is where the pt. has no pulse but the telemetry monitor shows the heart beating with a rhythm, the pt is dead.) we were unable to bring you out of p.e.a . and after having worked on you for awhile, the doctor pronounced you dead on arrival. did you hear me? i said a prayer for you as i closed your eye lids. did you hear me? when i found out that you had no family and that the state was your legal guardian, did you hear me?
to the 30 year old male that was brought in by the paramedics for being found drunk lying in the alleyway. your blood alcohol level was 296.2 mg/dl (the legal limit is 80 mg/dl or 0.08) i made sure you were safe at all times even though you were cursing me out in spanish. did you hear me?
to the 36 year old indian woman who presented with vaginal bleeding who was 16 weeks pregnant. thank you for confiding in me about your story. a story of a different country, a story of a different tradition, culture. thank you for confiding in me about your husband forcing you to have sex with him and banging you roughly in and out of your vagina -wanting you to lose the baby. thank you for crying on my shoulder. i am glad the baby was viable and safe but i hope i have helped you. did you hear me? i spoke both silently and verbally. did you hear me?
to the 39 year old man whose ex-wife took his son away and moved to san diego. i felt your pain. i listened to your story. a story of you drinking two 750ml bottles of absolute vodka and various other drinks in a weeks period. i sat with you and cried along with you about your suffering and struggles. i pray to god, (or at least my god, we all may have different gods.) that you one day find the strength and sobriety to face your pain and day to day struggles without having to take a drink. did you hear me?
and lastly, to the man who presented markedly intoxicated -drunk, because it was the 13 year anniversary of his father's death and to his surprise ended up in the same exact hospital where his father had died. i felt your fear. i knew that even though you drank to escape something it came back to stare you right in the face. i stayed by your side making sure you were safe and knew that someone was there. when it starting becoming dark outside and you cried that you had to get out the hospital by midnight because, "it was the day your dad had died on that night" i called for someone to come get you for safe transport to home. making sure you were out of the hospital by midnight. did you hear me?
i could go on and on, but you were just a few of the patients that i cared for on my shift last night.
did you hear me? did you........ hear me?