101 Things the Fire Department wishes you knew



Sunday, January 11

...for the pain in the neck... 4:13


Remember that day I told you about awhile back? I've been so busy dealing with so many other life or death legitimate emergencies, I've neglected to catch you up on that glorious day. Especially my favorite dispatch priority of all time: 26A1 - "Pain in the neck"
What I saw on this call not only reinforced my views on autism in this country but showed me what Courage and Family really mean.

THE EMERGENCY
A woman has called stating a 26 year old man is having a pain in his neck.

THE ACTION
What she fails to tell the dispatchers is that this man has autism. Not the BS autism floating around these days where the kids simply have behavioral issues, but THE autism. He is deaf, mute, has no ears, has problems purposely moving his extremeties, his skull is elongated and his fingers and toes are elongated as well. This man is autistic.
He lives with his mother and his father is with him when we arrive. The patient appears to be having a type of seizure, but the father tells us this is his normal presentation. The pain in the neck comment came from a visible rash that has appeared recently on his neck.
The real reason for our dispatch shows what it means to be Family.
When our patient visits a place he has been before, he is able to navigate furniture, people and stairs no problem. Without speaking and while being mostly blind he is able to notice when pictures are moved at his aunt's house. Today he has been bumping into furniture. At home. They noticed something so simple and identified it as a serious problem.
In the ambulance he is afraid of me in my blue clothes and blue exam gloves so a sit away from him, near the end of the bench. His father is next to him on the bench, holding his hand, allowing his son to smell it and rub his hair. The look on the son's face is one of comfort and calm from then on.

It was relayed to me that the son has been this way since birth and that when he was 2 they visited a local park, then went a block away for ice cream. At the time he was deaf, mostly blind and no one could explain his condition other than, "retarded." The father then tells me, with tears in his eyes, that 3 years later they took him to the same park for the first time since his first trip. When they got there the son walked slowly to each swing, pausing for only a few seconds as if gathering his bearings, then began to walk away. The parents gave chase and were amazed when their son walked a block in one direction, waited to cross the street, them walked another half block and stopped in front of the ice cream parlor.

I know adults that can't do that.

He was fine all the way to the ER and had some issues with the triage nurse insisting that his temperature be taken BEFORE a bed was assigned.
Later that night while dropping another patient off we passed by his door and he saw us standing there. He reached out and felt my hands, where my gloves were, and smiled. "He knows you now, by your hands, the blue." the father said as we left and I wondered if he was trapped in there like a pilot at the stick of a big broken plane or if his brain is firing like a fireworks show on the fourth of July.
But for 26 years a family has cared for their son who has never improved and likely never will and I saw true Courage in that father's actions. I would crumble under those kind of responsibilities.

4 comments:

Pat said...

Thank you for that post, it brought tears to my eyes. That is the definition of 'family', and is what we all should strive for.

Interesting that your post number is
4:13 and my favourite Scripture is
Phillipians 4:13
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me".

It seems that Christ is strengthening that family in so many ways.

The Happy Medic said...

The 4:13 refers to a series of calls from a rough day a few weeks back, start HERE.

Pat said...

Oh yes, I knew that, but I still thought it was serendipity that it corresponded to the number of such a powerful Scripture!

MotorCop said...

It is all too uncommon to hear of such Love and Dedication these days. Helps to restore some of my wayward faith in the human race.

Thanks for sharing, HM.