Monday, October 20, 2008

phone books and cpr

The new phone books were on my porch when I got home tonight. I haven't used a phone book for its intended purpose for years. It's too easy to Google for a number and information is free on the cell phone. 

At home I use the phone books to stand on to do leg lifts or to raise something up, but mostly I just keep moving them around. When I was first living on my own I loved getting the new book and looking for my name. For years I was the only Spitznogle in the Indianapolis phone book, and I am related to all of them listed now. When I was living in New Jersey I was the only one in the county. 

Phone book delivery day three years ago etched a whole new memory in my head. 

I heard a horrible noise coming from the reception area. Then I heard yelling. Our receptionist, J. was unconscious and slumped under her desk. One of our volunteers, Cheryl is a nurse and after she determined that J. was non-responsive she started chest compressions. I jumped in to do the breaths. I was very awkward at first, J. was still under the desk. I needed to elevate J.'s head a little bit to open the airway better. I looked around, ripped open a cellophaned block of phone books and grabbed one out. 

Cheryl and I were not able to move J. and keep doing what we were doing. We asked for help from another staff member. And then the hilarity could this situation be funny, you ask? 

I worked in nursing homes and hospitals all through high-school and college. There is protocol before you move a patient- count off 1, 2, 3. That's what Cheryl and I were expecting. We forgot to clue in the guy helping us. He yanked on J.'s feet leaving Cheryl and I still doing our thing, only our patient was in a different place. J.'s head clunked off the phone book and I was breathing in to air. 

Cheryl and I were back in back in business and someone else was on the phone with 911. The 911 operator wanted to know if I was certified to give CPR, my between breaths reply was "does it matter?" I heard the door bell ring, the paramedics had arrived. J. and I were the people who usually answered the door. I head the door bell ring a second time...blow, blow....reach up, lift up the phone receiver and say in my company voice, "come on in," and hit the door opener....blow, blow. 

The paramedics arrived started doing their thing - shock paddles, starting a breathing tube and other scary stuff. They packed J. up and carted her out. 

Then one of the responders told me that I should not have done CPR with out a mask, that I should get a baseline HIV test and Hepatitis shots. As if the scariness of CPR was not enough and not being sure if J. was even alive, I was being told that I'd screwed up. 

CPR is a messy thing. I won't go in to details, but it was it was messy. As it happens the clinic that we use for work injuries is right next door. I very shakily walked over. I told the nurse at the desk that I'd given CPR and got an earful from the staff about how they would never do that....ugggh. I was starting to feel woozy by the time they led me to a room. 

I was stretched out on the examining table trying not to freak out when the doctor walked in. He asked me how long ago the incident had taken place. "About half and hour ago," I replied. "Where?" he asked. "Next door." He looked puzzled and asked exactly what happened. I told him that I'd given CPR with out a mask. He started laughing - all my chart said was "fluids exchanged." Ugggh, I can only imagine what kind of fluid exchange he was thinking of that required an HIV test and Hepatitis shots. 

They drew blood and gave me a Hep A and B shot. I went home, threw away my clothes and rolled up on the sofa and didn't move for twelve hours. 

I was afraid to go to work the next day, I was not sure what I'd hear about J. 

It was good news! Not only did she live, but she was doing well. 

And, six months later I was done with the Hepatitis series and tested negative for HIV. 
It all ended well, mostly. I still jump every time I hear someone yell at work, I'm not sure if that will ever go away. And I'm not sure I'll look at a phone book the same ever again. 


Janell said...

My goodness, what a frightful experience!

I learned CPR when I was in the Army, but have never had to practice it. I hope you never have to do it again!

Cliff said...

I'm glad you're okay.
I don't have a mask but I think both Casey and Colton just each got one for Halloween so I'll borrow one of theirs.

just in case.