Today was the second day of two days ACLS mandatory testing--Advanced CardioPulmonary Life Support. Two days after two weeks of going over and over what to do in worst case scenerios..."you're going through the parking garage in the morning, on your way to work, and you see a young man--30ish slumped next to an open car door, nonresponsive..."
"coming back from the Starbucks in the cafeteria you find an older man lying unconscious in the stairwell and he is not breathing, your patient's wife comes out of his room and tells you that she feels as though her heart is being squeezed through a keyhole and suddenly collapses and is pulseless," and now a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I passed. As the American Heart Association has emblazoned on all their videos, "Learn and Live."
While the specter of Christmas Future hovered in the corners of the classroom in his grey hooded robe we frantically attempted to save the 52yr old woman who came in to the ER complaining of dizziness and had a heart rate of 238/min. We climbed up and down the algorithms we had attempted to staple to our minds, manuevering around joules and mcgs/kg/min to revive the post surgical patient found cyanotic leaning over his lunch tray. Heart rates of 30's, VTach/VFib, pulseless electrical activity lurking around each and every corner waiting to claim another victim.
Watching the videos of more tragedy for some poor family, the thought flickers past those watching the screen, which ones of us will suffer this. Who here will one day be the woman collapsing after brunch at a favorite restaurant on the morning of her 40th wedding anniversary? Who will be poor Jim--golfing with his son on a beautiful spring day and suffering a massive MI at the 12th hole? Who will find themselves standing in the cosmic game of musical chairs?
The patient of my scenerio survived, the instructor unwilling to let the members of my group leave unsuccessful in our lifesaving skills. This patient was brought back from the brink of death, one foot with a toe on the bucket and ready for kicking, he survived despite heavily stacked odds and went on to live a happy and healthy life in the ether.
I picked up my ACLS card, came home, ate lunch, and took the dog for a walk with my husband. Two hawks flew over us, their shadows casting a passing darkening and flew towards the highway. We looked around for the low, deep sound of chimes, finally tracking it from the sunporch house up on the hill ahead of us. Today the bells do not toll for me or mine and I am profoundly grateful.