Because of various reasons of confidentiality, I'm not going into deep detail for this post. Sorry
She was 31 years old and I was kneeling next to her forcing air into her lungs because she had stopped breathing.
I was sent the call as a “31 year old suspended” and to be honest I didn't think that the call was going to be as given. I was working solo on the FRU at the time, and I sped to the address, reaching the place at the same time as the ambulance. It was an ambulance with two trainees working it – while one of the trainees and myself went to the patient the other trainee and their supervisor turned the vehicle around so that they could leave the scene quickly if needed.
I rang the entry bell to the block of flats – whoever answered the entryphone seemed to be a bit disorientated, but we soon gained entry.
“Probably a psychiatric patient”, I said to the trainee as we stood in the lift.
“I hope so”, replied the trainee, “I've not done a suspended before”.
“Don't worry about it”, I said, “Just remember that you just need to try and keep calm, I'm there to run it until your supervisor gets there”.
The doors to the lift opened and we made our way to the flat. I walked in through the door and all hopes of the call not being a suspended were dashed.
The patient was lying flat on the floor a deep shade of blue – over her was a man I took to be her partner, he had one ear on the phone, listening to instruction from one of our calltakers. With his free hand he was pushing on the woman's chest in an effort of CPR. He wasn't doing a bad job of it either considering that tears were running down his face.
On the sofa was the daughter of the patient – she was around five or six years old. She was also crying. I realised that it was this little child who had opened the flat door for us.
The trainee and myself fell into our roles – I managed the patient's airway and breathing while the trainee connected the defibrilator. The patient had a pulse, but had suddenly stopped breathing. There was nothing in the patient's history to suggest what had caused this sudden stopping of breathing. The mother had overcome a serious illness a few years earlier – but that illness wouldn't account for what was happening today.
The job itself went pretty well – while the patient didn't start breathing again on her own, we did manage to 'pink her up' a lot. The transport to hospital went well and we handed the patient over to the hospital staff with a real hope that she would make a recovery.
I went back to the hospital a while later.
The patient had suffered a sudden huge and unrecoverable bleed into the brain. She would never wake up.
For some reason this really upset me. I don't normally get upset at people dying, but for some reason this one really upset me.
I don't know if it is because she has left a small child behind – a small child who saw her mother die in front of her. I don't know if it was because the mother overcame a serious illness six years ago for the sake of her child. I don't know what will happen to the child, as the mother's current partner isn't the biological father.
I don't know if it was because the mother had overcome serious adversity and yet she was dead at such a young age.
I suspect that it was because, for once, we thought that in giving the patient the best chance possible, she may have survived. I'm guessing that we were all disappointed that the patient was going to die despite doing our best work.
Whatever the reason, I was at my most upset over a dead patient since the dead thirteen year old I attended.
If there is a slight upside to the story – it's that because we kept her organs protected by breathing for her, those same organs were used to give a new lease of life for a number of other very sick patients. I only hope that this fact will gve some comfort to here family.
Yes – I'm a registered organ donor.