Stroke Survivor Series: The Ambulance
Part two of the Stroke Survivor Series
Ten minutes later the ambulance rolls up your driveway with lights flashing. Two paramedics jump out. One starts to check your vitals, the strength in your arms, your speech, and your visual fields; while the second gathers more information from your family members. Once they finish they load you into the ambulance. As the first responders race you down the highway, you hear one of the paramedics on the radio: “This is ambulance 57 inbound to your ER with a 68 year old male with approximately 20 minutes of left facial droop and right arm weakness…”
As you lie in the back of the ambulance every jolt and movement of the vehicle seems magnified. In one moment, everything in your life has changed. Everyone keeps telling you that you will be fine, but with the symptoms you are feeling you certainly don’t feel that way. The fear and anxiety slowly creep up and intensify as you try valiantly to stay hopeful. It’s easy for someone to tell you everything will be ok when they can move their arms and talk without difficulty. You wish you could fall asleep and wake up from this bad dream.
While this battle plays out in your head the paramedics attach monitors to your chest and fingers. Your daughter comes with you and squeezes your hand and comforts you. You wish you could tell her how you were feeling but you are overwhelmed by it all. The ambulance races through the city streets, sirens wailing, as the paramedics initiate essential treatments to stabilize your condition. IV lines are placed. A sense of urgency fills the confined space of the ambulance, the paramedics continue to communicate with the receiving hospital to provide a seamless transition of care. They continue to monitor your neurological status: asking questions, assessing your responses, and noting any changes.
With the hospital in sight, the paramedics pull up to the ambulance bay. They hurriedly enter the ER, where the charge nurse immediately directs them to the critical care room. They transfer you from the ambulance stretcher to a waiting hospital gurney. The room becomes a hive of activity, where a team of healthcare professionals continues your care. After giving the story to an awaiting nurse, the paramedics slip back to the ambulance. You try to thank them but your garbled words are lost in the noise of the ER. You were grateful to see the paramedics when they showed up at your doorstep and appreciate their expertise at getting you straight to the hospital.