Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Code Blue

Whenever anyone in the hospital quits breathing or their heart stops beating, a "Code Blue" gets called. For us residents, it basically just means that wherever we are, we immediately run to the room number that gets paged overhead and sent to our beepers. In medical school I occasionally was expected to respond to these, but by the time I got there there were always at least 5 residents, an attending, and 12 nurses in the room. So my skills were never really needed. Here at our hospital, though, we are the only residents, and we are often needed to help during these times. Usually codes happen on the floors with the sickest patients, like where the medicine patients are, or in the intensive care units.

Today, though, I got called to a Code on Labor and Delivery. This almost never happens. As soon as I heard the call overhead, I starting running. And running is not the easiest thing when you are an intern, since your pockets are full of notes, stethoscope, papers, and other useful equipment. By the time I got there, my heart was racing. You just don't expect things to go wrong when someone is having a baby. But today, during a routine C-section, right after the baby came out, a lady (not one of our patients) just stopped breathing and then her heart stopped beating normally and began to quiver.

The anesthesiologist was administering medicines to help her heart beat normally, and I actually had to take a turn performing chest compressions. Her face was ashy, her eyes staring blankly at the ceiling. As I was pushing on her chest, I noticed her nicely-manicured fingernails, and the makeup she probably applied carefully this morning, excited about welcoming this new person into their family. During this resuscitation, her belly was still open, and her uterus was actually sticking out. (Sorry for all you with a queasy stomach.) The OB doctor had to stop doing her c-section in order to resuscitate her. After a few minutes, I really started to worry that she wasn't going to make it. But after a few shocks to her heart, we finally got a pulse again. I stayed to help monitor her as they started various medicines to keep her heart beating normally and her pressure up.

Then, when my help was no longer needed, (not that it was REALLY needed earlier), I left. And in the strange way of resident doctors, I went and ate breakfast. It was just back to my normal day. I don't think I'm ever going to be used to the fact that my normal work day can involve performing CPR, and that I have to go and eat my oatmeal while someone's life precariously teeters on the edge.

She had a beautiful, perfect baby boy who is doing great. Last I heard, she is still intubated, in the intensive care unit, as the doctors try to piece together what happened. She seems to be holding her own and breathing well, although we won't know how her brain survived the time without oxygen for a few more days.

So if you think of it, please pray for this woman and her family -- that she will recover fully, that the doctors treating her will figure out what happened so they know what to do, and that her husband will know God's perfect peace. And you can always pray for this resident doctor, that I would have the knowledge I need, and that I would be able to show God's love to all my patients, even when they are not aware of my presence.

2 comments:

Sheryl said...

Oh, how terrifying. I'm sure there were moments during this crisis when you felt like YOUR heart was about to stop.

Heavenly Father, our Great Physician, bless our physician friend Aubrey with the knowledge, wisdom and understanding each day that she needs to make wise decisions, sometimes on a moment's notice. Guide her hands to heal and her heart to care. May she make a profound difference in the lives of her patients and their families.

Cora Bullock said...

Oh my gosh! That was so scary and almost tragic! So glad that she made it. I hope she and her baby are still doing okay these days. It’s a good thing you responded right away to the Code Blue message you got on your beeper. I think in a way, your mere presence and eagerness to help when your beeper went off was a big help in making sure the woman came through okay.