Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The bare necessities

Recently I cared for a patient who came to the ED in rapid afib (an irregular heartbeat). We started them on a cardizem IV drip to slow the rate. It work but they started to have short pauses in their heartbeat so, after consulting with the doctor, we stopped the drip.
I stayed close to the patient and about 5 minutes later their heart stopped and they passed out.
I called for help and was just about to do my first chest compression when they gasped, came to, and had a heart beat, and a nice rythm at that!

The pause lasted 6-10 seconds, it felt like 6-10 minutes!

It was yet another reminder of what an amazing thing the human body is. The heart basically "rebooted" itself. It was beating irregular, it stopped.......paused.......and started again, this time in a regular rythm.
It's also a reminder of how fragile human life is.
This patient had no heartbeat for 6-10 seconds!
Some people would classify that as deceased. And yet, this patient lives.
I work in a job that reminds me daily to be amazed at life and that we are not guaranteed a certain number of years or a certain number of heartbeats. The only guarantee is that someday our heart will stop.
We seek a balance, to make a difference in the world while at the same time not becoming enslaved to the things of this world.
As the great philosopher Baloo said, we "look for the bare necessity" of life.

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