Small Creatures, part 4

We’d just finished a call at one of the main nursing homes we serve and were heading back out to the rig. She was tiny, using a walker and hunched over with age, but still spry and peppy. As we approached she looked at me and said, “How about you kidnap me and take me away from here?”
I laughed, “What?”
“Get me out of here, It’s terrible! They pick on me because I’m small.”
I wasn’t sure if she was joking, “Oh no, that’s not good!”
She smiled, “But I just give them a swift kick!” And winked at me. “I bet you’d pick on me too.”
“Oh man, no I wouldn’t mess with you! You seem like you can take care of yourself.”
“They don’t even give me fair odds! Sometimes it’s three to one!”
“Haha, at least they should give you a chance!”
“Come on, take me with you, I need to get out of here!”

I transported my first child today. She was five years old as of April 13. Just before we got the call we dropped off ML. 320 lb, fussy ML… So Samira was quite a change of pace. She was a cute little thing, maybe three feet tall, and after ML, who positively pours over the sides of our gurney, she seemed tiny. Her legs weren’t even long enough for us to use the leg straps. She cried when the nurse reached for the saline lock in her left arm to flush it out. Her mom rushed in and she calmed down, burying her face in mom’s arm, unable to look while the nurse did her thing. It was so different from our usual patients. She was timid, but could stand and walk(!). She climbed onto the gurney like it was a couch or a jungle gym, she was just so small. She’d been at school when she got stung by a bee and had a bad allergic reaction. I can’t even imagine how it must have been. The pain, the ambulance, lights and sirens, big people in dark uniforms, the shiny, bright, sterile emergency room… She was a trooper, though. She sat patiently as we squeezed her arm to see how her heart was working, she answered my questions and even smiled shyly sometimes when I looked at her a bit long or asked her a funny question. When we dropped her off at the other hospital, there was a brown stuffed rabbit holding a carrot on her bed.

As we left I felt that I now understood why people say pediatric emergencies are the worst. Not only do kids go downhill fast and without warning, it’s just the idea of a child suffering. The call itself went flawlessly and yet it was still so stressful, thank God her mom came with us. Her temperature was 100.4F and climbing, her neck was still swollen, but otherwise she was fit and calm. I can’t imagine what it would be like to respond to a drowned child, or a pediatric trauma, or abuse… How do parents deal with all of this?

When we got back to the station, the street across the way from our headquarters was blocked off by at least ten cop cars that still had their lights on. We shut down our rig and clocked off, on our way out I asked one of our managers if she knew what had happened. “It was a hit and run,” she said, “A 4-6 year old child got hit by a car and they just drove off.”


~ by justinhong on May 9, 2012.

2 Responses to “Small Creatures, part 4”

  1. ugh. i read about the hit and run in oakland. heartbreaking indeed.

  2. “…even smiled shyly sometimes when I looked at her a bit long or asked her a funny question.” i like that.

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