Tracy Haight knew better. She KNEW better. When someone yells "CLEAR!", you back away from the bed. She just wanted to tape the IV a little better - Mr. Hooper was in V Fib, sweating like a pig, and they were about to lose the IV, which they really REALLY needed. So, when Dave Evans, the ER doc, defibrillated him for the third time, Mr, Hooper got his heartbeat back at the same moment that Tracy was knocked back onto the floor.
"Shit!", said Dave. "What happened?"
"Tracy was touching him when you did the last shock," said her friend Joe, the nurse who'd been recording. He'd dropped the clipboard on the floor and was kneeling next to Tracy.
"Jesus, she's unconscious. She's bleeding - she's got a big scalp lac on the back of her head."
While Mr. Hooper gradually gained consciousness and looked on curiously, they slid Tracy onto a backboard and onto the next gurney, and hooked her up to the monitor. She had a regular heartbeat but the numbers in her blood pressure were getting farther apart, a sign that the pressure in her brain was rising from getting whacked. In the finite space inside her skull, her brain was swelling like a bruised muscle. Her breathing increased to try to compensate, but she felt herself pulled away, away.
"Get her in a c-collar", Joe yelled. "The last thing she needs is to wake up paralyzed. SARAH? Can you take over on the guy next door? He'll need an amiodarone drip; he's starting to have runs of V Tach again."
Tracy could hear Joe, sort of. Mostly she saw strange, swirling things in the darkness. Sort of a mystical black velvet painting, which she found much more compelling than the mundane chaos of the ER. "Black velvet painting", she thought. "How tacky."
"Tracy! Tracy, can you hear me? I can't believe this. Her right pupil's dilating. Call CT and tell them we have a stat one."
Becky, the ER manager came in. "What the hell's going on? Everybody's running around like they'd never seen an emergency". Then, "Oh. . ."
"She didn't 'Clear'", said Joe.
"She's breathing at 32, and her pulse pressure's widening," said Becky, starting an IV while Joe was rolling Tracy off to CT.
Tracy didn't react to the IV. Not even a flinch.
Dave and Becky stood in the room, suddenly quiet save for Mr. Hooper's regularly beeping monitor.
"So, Mr. Hooper," Dave said, " you've had an exciting visit to the Emergency Room! You doin' OK?"
Mr. Hooper smiled and gave him a tired "thumbs up". "She alright?" he asked.
"I hope so," said Dave. "I hope so."
Outside the door, Dave said, "I guess we better call her family. Anybody know them?"
Becky did. She knew Tracy's husband had left recently, and she was raising a 13 year old girl on her own. Sophie, that was it. Sophie the latchkey kid. She called Tracy's house.
"Hi - Sophie?"
"Yeah. Who's this?"
This is Becky, at Memorial. I work with your Mom. Something's happened. Is there anybody you can call?"