His blood glucose was eighteen; for a healthy person, it’s around eighty. He waited until after crossing the marathon finish line before having a grand mal seizure. He’d just stumbled to the edge of the medical tent, just meters from the finish line. We just congratulated him on finishing and his eyes rolled up outta sight and he dropped.
Most days, he’s one of the healthiest guys around. But after 26.2 miles, and on the hottest marathon day on record, no one could get an IV into him. All of the people closest to him tried and failed. An airway’s nearly impossible while someone’s actively seizing like he was. So, I snuck in over his left shoulder, on top of another medic or nurse surrounding the runner (who we all realized was another healthcare cohort from the trauma center), and sunk a 16 above the bend in his left elbow, in the vein that runs up your bicep. And without a tourniquet as whoever I was on top of was creating enough back pressure by the very act of holding his left shoulder down. This was the only place left and everyone else was holding gauze to places they’d tried, on all of his appendages. As soon as I got that, even before the IV was secure, in went a little valium and an ampule of dextrose.
At the time, he was one of the badass techs in the trauma center so he got all of our attention. And he was “lucky” it happened late in the afternoon, when most of the day’s craziness had passed. It was during the craziest point, right about the time when most of the serious runners had already crossed, that I realized there was a crew from CNN filming. And it’s hard for me to imagine myself, that young medic, full-time, university full-time, and twenty plus years younger than my present self with a bit of attitude (some say: hotshot). Well, this young medic yelled at the CNN guy for filming. He immediately dropped his camera and made way for us.
I realize he was doing his job. And that I’m so much more like him, now, than that medic. It’s been another decade (and then some) since I took my last “real” call . . . actually, my last call was a blonde beagle (dog) named Bagel. No lie. My partner, Alex, and I just finished “pronouncing” the death of the Sausage King, not too far back into the valley. On our way out, we spotted Bagel, who’d just been hit by a car ahead of us. We tried some heroics in the back, all through heavy tears. . . . you know the deal. I won’t finish the story but there were two paramedics balling their eyes out, returning to base.
I digress. Today, many years removed and all I really want to do is tell stories (and take amazeballs portraits!!). That CNN cameraman got me and my partner earlier in the day but it wasn’t until there was one of ours on the gurney, later that afternoon, that I wasn’t going to let him film us evacuating our Seizure Cohort.
I miss how “real” work was as a medic but I don’t miss the pain and all of the stories (and visuals) collected over eighteen years, active (twenty-two total).
I thought about this while waiting for the bus, today. I saw a man doing something very personal (definitely not obscene but interesting to someone from the West). I felt the urge take out my camera, down in the bag at my feet and sneak over to a better spot but you have to draw the line, sometimes. CNN guy knew. And I admire him for trying to tell a visual story.
But you know he knew there were certain times when you have to lower the camera out of respect. This was that time.
Both would have been really great shots (especially of me looking really serious, pulling a gurney through a crowd). They’ll both be left to memories.
Baker-One, out for 10-14 . . . 😉