Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Everyday First Responder

You know the old saying, “everything happens for a reason?” Well, I’m a true believer in this proverb because I have lived long enough to see the consequence of actions. My youngest daughter, Christine, has recently come to believe in this too, after our dog, Bubby sustained a serious laceration to his front leg.

For the past year, Christine has been seriously thinking about her future and the career opportunities open to young people. She is excellent in academics and she has a curiosity about different job perspectives. In contemplating her course curriculum for her junior year of high school, she has decided to pursue the medical program at the Harrodsburg Area Vocational School. Her reasoning behind this is because she wants to help people.

She has toyed with the idea of being an emergency medical technician, a paramedic or a firefighter, and she has also researched the Peace Corp and the National Guard. She really wants to be involved with the Peace Corp and she feels that medical training, in addition to a college degree, will help advance her down this pathway. She is excited about getting her certified nursing assistant license so she can work with patients to see if she would enjoy being a nurse, but she doesn’t feel like nursing is the exact medical field she wants to follow. She does like the idea of being a first responder and administering help in emergency situations.

To help further her interest in healthcare, I pulled out several of my old nursing books and she has already been reading up on the systems of the body and the diseases connected to them. She already knows much of the terminology, picking up many things from me when I talk about medical procedures, but she has never really had any first hand experience with illnesses or trauma. The day Bubby cut his leg, this all changed.

It happened on a Wednesday afternoon and it was a beautiful outside. I had come home for lunch at noon and after feeding and walking Bubby, I chained him outside to enjoy the afternoon. I knew Christine would be getting home early and she could take him for another walk.

I was sitting at my desk writing when I heard Bubby give a couple of yelps. When I looked at the clock, I saw it was two o’clock, so I assumed Bubby was barking a greeting to Christine. You know what they say about people who assume things. Christine came in the house and dropped her backpack by the front door, then called for Bubby. She is used to him running up to her the minute she walks in the door, so she asked me where he was. I told her he was out in the front yard.

“He didn’t bark at me – usually if he is outside, he barks when I walk up.” We both headed for the front door. My first thought was he had broken free and run down the road; this is something he has done before. When Christine got to him, she noticed his left front leg was dripping blood.

Near my front porch, I have a small garden that is planted in and around and old glass water jug. This jug had its top broken off last year and I hated to trash it, so I turned it into a mini greenhouse to use as a focal point near the porch. Bubby had gotten into the flower garden and stepped on this glass jug, breaking off a large chunk of glass that sliced open his foreleg.

When Christine yelled Bubby was bleeding, I grabbed a roll of paper towels and headed out to see what the problem was. When I saw blood squirting from his leg, I knew we were in trouble. The paper towels quickly proved to be inadequate and I sent Christine after old towels. Applying pressure, we both tried to calm the dog and prayed for the bleeding to slow down. After ten minutes, with towels duct taped around his leg, we loaded Bubby into the car and headed to the veterinarian.

On the way into town, Christine kept Bubby calm and helped hold pressure on the wound. The first thing the vet tech did was weigh Bubby, but we tried twice before getting an accurate weight. He was becoming agitated and this only caused the blood to flow more freely. As a nurse, blood doesn’t bother me, but there was a tremendous amount splattered all over the white floor. Christine turned pale and I had her sit down, afraid she might pass out. My husband gets light headed with just a few drops of blood, and I became concerned Christine might be the same way, but she was fine after sitting down.

Bubby ended up having to stay over night at the vets. He was sedated, the wound was cleaned and then repaired; the artery had been cut, as well as the muscle, tendon and ligaments. Fortunately, he will make a full recovery.

So this was Christine’s first foray into emergency medicine. I think she did good keeping Bubby calm and helping to apply pressure; she doesn’t think she did well, mainly because the blood really scared her. I tried to explain that emergency situations are different when they concern your family, and Bubby is a member of our family.

Christine is more eager now than ever about entering the medical field. She’s not sure if this will be her major area of study, but she’s thinking ahead to the future. She has heard the stories of how I had to struggle to raise her two older sisters when I was a single mother, so she feels the medical training will be something she can fall back.

“Mom, I can always get a job as a nurse if I have to, but I don’t want this to be the only thing that defines me.” She looks at healthcare as an insurance policy for the future. Sometimes it scares me to think I have a child who is wise beyond her years.

© Bobbi Rightmyer, May 2008