Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Another Wreck On The Side Of The Road

"Should we stop?" the cap'n asked.

 "Yeah, we should," I replied.

 There was already a handful of people gathered around the SUV that had come to rest in the middle of a field, the dust was still swirling. The top was collapsed and the driver's side was smashed in, I could see her pale face through the door's broken window and from my distance I could see the violet shadow ringing her lips.

 "Too late," I mutter to the cap'n.

 But as we draw closer, I can hear her labored breathing.

 "I'm a nurse," I tell the man who is trying to wrestle the door open, it's not budging and he moves aside. There are two other passengers in the vehicle, young men, one is dazed but sitting up and already struggling to get out, the other has somehow been thrown face down over the front seat, his bare foot hanging out the front passenger door window. I had noticed a lone tennis shoe laying in the weeds as we walked up. We can hear his gurgling breath, the other young man's legs are entangled around this one's torso and the cap'n directs the other men to help him move them, so the man can breathe easier.

 "Watch his neck. Don't move him."

 I let the others take care of the young men and I focus on the girl. My fingers go to her neck, "Ah there it is, faint and thready."

 I peel back her eyelids, I don't see her pupils constrict but I don't watch for long, there is nothing I can do about it anyway. I assess what I can see without moving her, there is no clear liquid coming from her nose or the ear I can see, her sputum is just slightly blood tinged, there is a small laceration and swelling above her left eye, her nail beds are cyanotic, her right arm that is lying free is not moving but she is moving the forearm of her right arm even though the upper part is pinned by the crushed door. Her abdomen feels taut but not tight, but she definitely looks like she is bleeding somewhere but there is no blood that I can see, it must be internal, perhaps the spleen since that is the side that is impacted, perhaps a lot of things. I see all of this in a matter of seconds.

 She is young. Her eyes are light blue.

 There is really nothing I can do.

 A single tear trickles down her cheek and I brush it away with my thumb.

 There is a mode that we healthcare workers go into. I don't know where we learn it, it isn't taught in school. Maybe we learn it from watching those that go before us, maybe it is inborn.

 It is matter of fact.

 It is calm.

 It is as though we see this everyday. You're not that bad, we've seen worse.

 It is as much an act for us, as it is for them.

 It just comes forth.

 "Okay Sweetie, this is what I need you to do." (Hail Mary, Full of Grace)"Keep on breathing just like you're doing, you're going to be fine." (The Lord is with you) "Help is on the way but I need you to keep breathing, okay" Just like that. You're doing great." (Blessed art thou amongst women)"Hang in there, Sweetie. Just a little longer. Help is almost here. Just keep breathing." (And Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.)"No, no, no, don't do that, Honey. Come on, breathe for me. Breathe for me. There you go, there you go. Don't give up. Help is almost here. I need you to hang on."(Holy Mary, Mother of God)"You're doing great. That's the way. Let's get some pink in those cheeks. I know your scared. I'm here. I'm not going to leave you. Help's almost here. Can you hear the sirens? Keep breathing. Just a little longer."(Pray for us sinners now)"Okay, Sweetie, help's here. They're going to take good care of you. Keep breathing. You're doing so good. You're going to be fine. Keep breathing Keep breathing. Just keep breathing. You're going to be fine." (Now and at the hour of our death. Amen)

 "Ma'am, we need you to move aside." I step out of the way. I've done all I can do.

 I watch as they use the jaws of life and extricate her. She's still breathing and somehow an EMT is already magically holding an IV bag aloft. God, those guys are good. They rush her to the helicopter that has landed nearby. The two young men are on gurneys being loaded into waiting ambulances.

The cap'n and I make our way back to our vehicle. They are in more capable hands now.

 The Whup-whup-whup of the helicopter rotors increases. The dust swirls up again.

 "Just keep breathing, Sweetie. Hang in there."

 P.S. In the medical field, we have a belief that all bad things come in three's, I hope not, this is the second wreck I have come upon on the side of the road since I quit drinking. Isn't it strange that this never happened when I was drinking? As with the first one, I know that if I was still drinking, I would have been hungover yesterday. Would I have told the cap'n to keep on driving?

 I don't have much of an update except that I did check the local newspaper and while it reported the wreck, it did not give a report on the victims conditions. But there were no obituaries either.

 P.P.S. Once again, I am so thankful for those that went before me that acted like they knew I was going to make it even if they didn't think I had a prayer. Thank you for telling me, " Don't give up. Just keep breathing."

Update: The young man that was thrown over the seat died yesterday evening. His name was Gavino. You manage to detach and go on and tell yourself that you did everything you could...but you always wonder.  Should we have tried to move him and given him a less obstructed airway?  Were we too worried about a neck fracture? Would anything we could have done made a difference?  We'll never know.  The two young men were brothers.  There is no other news on the other brother or the girl.

The driver, the girl, pulled out in front of a semi, he didn't even have time to apply his brakes and there were no skid marks.  None of the kids were wearing seatbelts.  The driver of the semi was wearing a seatbelt.  He was not injured.

Update 2: They girl died this morning.  Her name was Cheyanne.


  1. Thanks a lot Kary...now I'm crying at work.

    You really are a rock star you know? And a damn fine writer.


  2. Beautiful. It's so important to remain hopeful, in every situation.

  3. Wow, that's really powerful. Jeepers, full on. So full on. Isn't it funny how many times we think how things would be different 'if we'd still been drinking'. Thank god we can see that now. You rock. xxx

  4. Nope, no rock star here, just a woman trying to do the best she can and staying sober.

  5. Yea... I'm crying at work too... the paragraph containing the prayer, that one grabbed my heart and squeezed it so hard and tears started flowing.

    Life is so fragile... thank you for sharing this intense post and I'm certain you were sent crash scene to give Cheyanne comfort in her last moment in life.

  6. Wow...another powerful, heartfelt post Girl! Keep writing and breathing!