A shocking diagnosis

The blue-scrubbed bearded nurse came back in and looked sadly at the sorry state of my IV. The EMT hadn’t gotten a vein and the tube was bent in the crook of my elbow. He removed it and poked and prodded a few minutes, and after three attempts finally found a vein. (My veins are notoriously terrible when it comes to getting IVs started.) My husband turned away, squeamish at the vein prodding. 

After what could have been either five minutes or two hours, Mr. Bearded Blue Scrubs came back, placed his hand on my arm, and told me not to freak out. I looked up at him inquisitively, as best I could look up in that yellow foam neck brace. He said: “you have a broken neck.”

My eyes must have widened to three times their size and walls felt like they were closing in on me. Did I hear that right? I didn’t hear anything else he said and just laid there in shock. I couldn’t see my husband due to the c-collar keeping my neck immobilized, but I’m guessing he had a similar incredulous look. Just then, my blood pressure monitor spiked and beeped due to my heart thumping in my chest from fear. I tried deep breathing to help stabilize my quickening heart rate. Then tears started pouring from my eyes and I wiped them on my blue and white hospital gown.

The nurse said they’d be moving me to the ICU for the night so they could monitor me closely. At that point, I felt a wave of intense thirst wash over me. “Water,” I croaked. The nurse said I may have to go into emergency surgery at any time and could not eat or drink. Instead, they gave me a small red sponge with a long metal handle. I sucked on the sponge and immediately choked. I was lying almost flat and the cervical collar was constricting my throat and preventing me from swallowing fully. It’s going to be a long night.

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    Tags: emt, wave, arm, eyes, widened, hospital, times, iv, blue, felt

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