He was a big man.
In the midst of a big code.
And he was in big trouble.
We needed to move this man from the MRI table back onto his bed in a real quick hurry. To do this we would use a large rectangular plastic spatula known as a PatSlide.
Described as a “thick semi flexible thermoplastic material with 12 longitudinal ridges on the base” ( medical equipment lingo for a large, flat rectangle of plastic). This device has a friction surface on the under-side and is slippery on the top.
By placing two hospital beds side-by-side and placing the PatSlide as a sort of ‘bridge’ between, it is possible ( with a few skilled assistants) to swoosh them across to the destination bed with a minimum of fuss or discomfort.
Legend has it the slide was invented by a wardsman named…Pat. Who by creating a really useful transfer aid and then selling it for a ridiculously inflated price because it is medical equipment, retired as a multibillionaire.
I think the more likely truth is that Pat is probably just short for patient….but the legend lives on.
Unfortunately for me the PatSlide also possesses a not insubstantial aerodynamic profile, and as one of the nurses lifted it briskly from its wall hook and swung around to throw it onto the bed somewhat as one would cast a fishing net, it lifted upwards unexpectedly on its own thermoplastic 12 ridged trajectory.
Very nearby, I was standing in my super-serious-code extra wide stance just as the corner of Pat’s Slide sliced upwards where it macheted deep into the center seam of my scrub pants.
The accompanying sound was not unlike one of those machines that launches clay pigeons at a shooting range… except firing into a vat of jelly.
In the ensuing agony, the usual imperative of managing the patients airway, breathing and circulation all went south.
In fact all the urgency of ABC’s had shrivelled down to an altogether more primal mnemonic:
I was bent over like a 7 , and seriously considered dropping to the ground, scrunching up into the foetal position and crying like a baby.
One of the consultants offered to call a second code for me, which seemed altogether reasonable.
Instead, after a quick glance down to check for any testicular arterial bleeding, and a tentative downstairs jiggle to check for any loose items that might be rattling around, I ratcheted myself up into a pale, pre-syncopal, I’m OK stance and got back to the big man.
We rescued big man from the precipice of catastrophe and much later, once home, I finally had time to conduct a more thorough assessment of my ABC’s.
I tried to get a little sympathy from Kelly to little avail. So I tried to at least get some emergency therapeutic massage… with even less avail.
It occurs to me at this juncture that if there really is a God, she is surely a she, for any male omnipotence would have securely encapsulated men’s testicles in a 5cm thick vault of dense bony protective armour.
That, and perhaps made them in the form of expensive leather Italian shoes to attract a little more tactile attention from the opposite sex (or same sex if that is your preference).
But I digress.
This is one true-ish story from my 35 year career as an emergency department nurse.