Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pins and Needles

I'm in a dark room, with a one-armed man. I'm trying to find an IV so I can give Nitro and Morphine for his chest pain... I search and search for a vein. I've got one, but it's resting on fatty tissue, with nothing to put tension against to hold it in place. I swing... and a miss. Clean the site and try the other side of the AC. Swing and a miss. Again... back at the first site. I get flash, but can't advance the catheter. I try to float it in. It blows. I swear in my head.

We load the patient up, and once in the truck, I find one more vein on the arm that I think I can get. I pray. I miss. I look at my partner and say “Just go”. I talk to the patient on the way to the hospital. Trying to keep his mind off things. It doesn't really work.

At the ER, we place the patient in bed. I explain that I can't get a line. The nurse looks at me and incredulously says “Are you a paramedic?” I doubt myself. I think I stole the patch and don't deserve to wear it. I say Yes, but inside I wonder.

After registering the patient, I peek in on my way out the door. The nurses are on try 4 or 5 themselves, with no more luck than I had. I walk out with my head just a little bit higher, recognizing that it wasn't JUST me.


I hate IV's in my own arms... it hurts. I cringe when I stick my patients. I don't dig for the vein, because that trick never works. I hate turning my patients into pincushions, but sometimes they have NOTHING for veins, and I'm desperate to get a line so I can push drugs to make them feel better.

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