My shoulders are sore from doing compressions, and my hands ache from holding the seal around a face for ventilation, or squeezing a bag of saline to make it run faster. Three codes in two days – far too many.

The last one, I just went up to the floor to check on a patient I’d transferred out of the unit, and they called a code down the hall. I had to be one of the closest people, so I thought I’d go check. It was real. The patient got intubated, and we had a line in, and it felt as though things were under control. Airway, rhythm on the monitor. . . so why was the patient so blue? I found myself doing compressions, and trying to persuade everyone else in the room that I really had not felt a pulse, and the rhythm on the monitor was nothing more than PEA (pulseless electrical activity). . . It’s hard to talk while doing compressions properly, but it wasn’t hard to prove. . . Not much good in the end. (Note to self, ekg leads aren’t enough, you need pulse ox and blood pressure too; and just because the patient had a pulse two minutes ago doesn’t mean they still do.)

When I was younger (a whole year ago), I used to go to these things and be all quivery and excited because I thought we might save somebody’s life. Now, like the rest of the senior residents and attendings, I don’t worry too much, because I know it’s not going to work anyway. Even if by some chance we got a circulating rhythm back, the patient will, 95 times out of 100, die in the ICU anyway.

I woke up this morning and I couldn’t figure out why my shoulders ached so much. It took me a couple of hours to even remember the code the day before, and connect my frantic compressions to the current situation. It was several hours later that I remembered the code before that, which was why my hands hurt. Ok, I’ve got it all straight; I’m ready for the next one.