I was called into the local children’s hospital for a trauma. Supposedly shaken baby – 6 month old. There were other injuries including burns, bruises, and what the docs said looked like old scarring/bleeding from past head traumas. Needless to say it was a case that had to be handled by Child Protective Services and law enforcement.
While wrapping up that trauma, I was then notified of a med clearance. It wasn’t a typical med clearance as the patient was still going to stay in the hospital over night for further assessment. I had received a page earlier on in the shift notifying staff that the patient had at one point become unresponsive. I met with the patient, a 14 year old. The patient was cooperative with me, however evasive in answers with the patient’s family standing around. Understandably so. The patient expressed symptoms of depression and had not found a way to communicate their feelings with their family. The patient had decided to take an entire bottle of whatever pills they could find in the home. An upset tummy from an attempted overdose is what landed the patient in the hospital.
I have heard more and more from patients the sense of hopelessness, isolation and aloneness when dealing with crisis from home and school. Increased depression rates from being bullied at school and not feeling that home can be the refuge from the storm. Drugs, sex, violence, peers. Just like children, we turn to the things we feel will give us the most temporary relief and comfort. I just wish there were more safe havens – namely the home – with more stable upbringing, more communication, more appropriate affection.
At another ED in the valley, I had been called in to meet with an older patient. Covered in blankets and shivering, this patient had clearly not been taking meds as prescribed. Between the tears, mumbling, and being a poor historian, I barely got through the assessment. The story changed, the plot thickened, and the emotions from the patient became more intense. There was everything from having had the patient’s sister commit suicide year back, to having had met with her yesterday. Bette Midler would be picking up the patient’s belongings, and then the descriptions of the auditory hallucinations. It was clear this patient needed to get back on a medication regimen.
Not shortly after, I found myself trying to keep the attention and consciousness of another patient who had been using meth and heroin with their brother. I could barely get two words out before the patient was back into deep sleep mode. Luckily the patient’s partner showed up and made doing the assessment work much easier. I suppose we would have just left the patient there till they woke up, but they had already been occupying the room for the past 6 hours. Over and over the patient kept telling me as they would drift off to catch more z’s “i’m sorry I just can’t help it.”