I’ve always known that there was this hunk of muscle about the size of my fist in my chest. I knew it pumped blood through my entire body, and that as long as it kept beating at a somewhat regular pace, say about 80 beats per minute, that that was a good thing.
Then I started Paramedic school.
The Cardiovascular system is one of the more challenging chapters for many. Some dread it. I looked forward to it like a kid being let loose in Toys R Us with a million bucks. Or a certain medic student being let loose in a Coach purse store with 10 million bucks.
Yep. I’m a geek. Sue me :)
The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. I would seek out cardiac patients during my ER time. I would frequently read articles from various websites and blogs written by people who have forgotten more about the heart than what I’ve learned (big shout out to Prehospital 12-lead and Paramedicine 101). When I couldn’t quite understand something, I went to my people. Blogdaddy Ambulance Driver, Medic Matthew, and JB.
I learned about the atria, ventricles, conduction pathways and coronary arteries. I learned about 3 leads, memorized rules to rhythms, and eventually began to understand what was going on in the heart to cause a certain rhythm to march across the monitor. We learned about AMI’s, and 12-leads, and how doing something as simple as moving V4 can mean the difference between nitro and fluids. I didn’t just memorize drugs and doses and that you push Adenosine really freaking fast, I learned the why behind it.
And that was just scratching the surface. What I’ve just begun to learn… It’s hard to wrap my head around.
We’ve been done with the chapters for a few months now, and I’m still eating up all of the information I can get my hands on with a big ole spoon. Today, for instance, was a very cool day. Today I was fortunate enough to be able to spend some time in a cath lab.
(And yes, that’s a Chronicles sticker on the back of my phone :)
Wow, way to get off track.
Not five minutes after getting into my lovely ensemble I found myself donning a lead vest and skirt, a cap over my hair and a mask. I was invited to watch someone have a dual chamber pacemaker put in. The Doctor, I wish I had remembered his name, was fantastic. He really took the time to explain what he was doing as he did it, and inviting me to stand directly to his right. I had a front row seat. And it was so unbelievably cool.
Electricity. It’s good stuff when it works. When Sydney Sinus gets sick, however, all kinds of wickedness kicks up. I watched the patients rate and rhythm change like the weather does in NW Ohio. Which is to say often and unpredictably. At one point there was a sinus arrest that lasted just long enough to make my heart race, about 15 seconds before returning to RSR.
The rest of my shift was equally as cool. I was able to watch a few PCI’s being performed, and watched with held breath as pefusion was returned to what had been a blocked RCA. And again, everything was explained to me as it was done, everyone went out of their way to answer any questions I had.
This is how it’s done, folks, these people were amazing. And I am so grateful for the opportunity that I was given to learn and observe.
I’m within a few short weeks of finish the course, and I couldn’t be more excited. Right now my days are pretty much consumed by class and clinical time. The next 30 days, for example have me doing six 15-hour third rides on a life squad, two eight hour OR shifts for intubations, two OB shifts (cross your fingers, I still need a live birth!), seven ER shifts, a major exam and of course the days of lecture and lab.
Am I complaining? Absolutely not. Still, some days are easier than others, and I when I need a swift verbal kick to the backside, I know who to call. Honestly, though, I’m doing well. I knew this would be a challenge when I started, and it should be.
Take care ya’ll, and again, thank you for giving me this amazing opportunity! I wont let you down!