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Meris Shuwarger: Seizures Consume A Young E.R. Patient

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The pager beeps loudly as it vibrates across the table. I pick it up and check it, knowing full well I'm about to be on my way to whatever it is.

"CRITICAL ALERT, TRAUMA 1," it says, as if the capital letters are begging me to hurry. I grab my bucket and check it quickly.

IV needles gauges 16-24? Got them. Syringes, tubes, needles, gauze, alcohol, tourniquet, saline locks, and saline flushes? Got it all. I grab an extra pair of small gloves and stick them in my pocket as I make my way through the supply closet toward the first trauma suite.

A tech is carrying her in. She's seizing in his giant arms, her little hands hitting his chest, her tiny feet kicking towards his neck. She can't be more than 3. He puts her down as gingerly as he can, and I realize that other than the doctor, I'm the first one in.

"She's in status, I need to get some meds in, get me an IV." He's nearly bumping his head against mine as he leans over her. He's trying not to yell, but his voice cracks.

I panic. This is my first week of training, and no one’s bothered to show me how to start an IV yet.

"I...I don't do IVs!"
"I haven't done an IV yet!"
"Oh for the love of--DAVID!"

David looks up from whatever he's doing and pushes me out of the way. People are slowly filing in, taking what seems like a lifetime. I watch impatiently as David starts the IV and hands me two syringes of blood. Obligingly, I fill the 8 tubes with it, trying to ration it evenly.

She stops moving. Her eyes are glassy and rolled back, and she's taking on a bluish tint. I don't really hear much, I just let myself get pushed out of the room like a rag doll. I'm not quite sure how I managed to hang on to my bucket, the vials of blood, and 8 name labels, but I find myself back in the lab, sitting on the stool with wheels.

"Sam?" I hear something coming from somewhere around me, but I don't focus on it.
"Sam? Sam, you're so pale, are you okay?" The backside of a warm hand against my forehead brings me back to reality.
"Are you okay?"
"Oh, yeah, yeah, I just...yeah."
"Um, okay. Want me to label that blood for you?"

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