Full Arrest Narrative
Ann Stewart McBee
Patient found supine, CPR in progress via Fire Department. Fire Department on scene states guardian of patient initiated 911 response after following him rapidly on foot from CSL diner (Meaning Country Squire Lakes, IN. Not cardiolipin synthetic lecithin. Not can’t stop laughing.) toward local manmade “lake.” Suspected downtime approximately 25-30 minutes.
Star-shaped fluctuant abscess on thenar eminence of right hand. Unknown history, unknown meds, unknown allergies, unknown why this boy was running from his guardian, unknown how he came to be bitten by a rattlesnake on the hand, unknown how we will afford new shoes again, unknown how anyone finds himself here, in this graveyard of double-wides, unknown what else may creep forth from that mudhole, unknown how she is eight years old already. ID on scene recovered by Police Department.
Fire Department reports Automatic External Defibrillators attached, no shock advised, even the shock of finding out this is not because of meth—not this time. Like the shock from sleeplessness. Like the shock of realizing that the odor of muskrat carcass is the same as the human kind. Like the shock of a teardrop that finds its way out. No shock there. No shock at all.
CPR in progress for 10 minutes with minimal interruption. Prayers of the white-haired guardian said loudly with no interruption at all. Lord guide thy servant that I may preserve your mission. Defibrillation pads attached to monitor, CPR halted. Prayers not. Direct this boy out of the darkness Lord. Pulseless, asystole. Shed your grace upon this child Lord that he may live. CPR resumed, intubation attempted with success by paramedic, despite prayers directed elsewhere.
Intraosseous access obtained, Epinephrine via IO, patient immobilized with minimal interruption. Rhythm and pulse reassessed. Return of spontaneous circulation, pulse verified. Will this be enough detail? Will it stand up in court? Let the record show the bracelet made of buttons my daughter made for me broke and fell off—no time to retrieve it. Let the record show she deserves more. Let the record show I have not slept in six days.
Moved to ambulance C-3 St. Vincent. St. Vincent who served the poor in France. The saints have marched over and past Indiana. Enroute: ventilation and O2 maintained. Corn tassels look like fleur-de-lis. EKG shows possible sinus tachycardia elevation in leads II, III AVF, 12-lead not obtained due to transport time and available resources. Sleep is a resource. Parental love is a resource. Morning kisses are in short supply. Cornflakes are abundant. If I can just stay awake to the end of Where the Wild Things Are. If I can just.
Pulseless electrical activity. CPR resumed, Epinephrine 1:10000 1mg, Atropine 1mg. Atropine occurs naturally in plants like deadly nightshade, Jimson weed, and mandrake. The mandrake root resembles a human body. Consuming the juice in large quantities is said to induce madness. Can’t. Stop. Laughing.
Rhythm reassessed, pulseless, PEA sinus tach, CPR resumed, 3rd Epi given. Another round of prayers. And then open eyes, pupils constricting. And then a smile. And then hallelujahs and praise Jesuses. No dreams tonight of being buried from the neck down like a mandrake root. Let the record show I will practice multiplication tables with her as soon as I can. Let the record show something.
Arrived to St. Vincent prior to transfer from stretcher to bed, reassessed with return of spontaneous circulation. Patient moved, report given, care transferred to ER staff, prayer spoken by patient (heavenly father, give your power of healing to those who ministered my needs that she may be strengthened) brow of paramedic touched by patient’s bloody hand, paramedic commanded to heal.
Ann Stewart McBee has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where she taught literature and creative writing and served as Editor-in-Chief for UWM’s literary journal cream city review. Her work has been published in Citron Review, Blue Earth Review, Ellipsis, At Length, Palaver and So to Speak. Ann now teaches writing at Des Moines Area Community College, and she lives outside Des Moines, Iowa with her husband and a smelly little terrier. Her novel, Veiled Men, is looking for a home.