It was a dark and stormy night.
So I’m walking to Borders with fellow anatomy TA Ronnie, we’re just leaving the parking garage, and an elderly woman carrying an umbrella mis-steps and crashes to the ground. She doesn’t even get a chance to FOOSH it (fall on out-stretched hand). It’s like it’s out of a bad medical student training video or something. She kind of lands on her side, or so I think, and we hustle over to see if she’s okay; I instantly think broken hip.
She’s partially picked herself up, and she’s about to stand up, and I notice a little blood on her hand. I say, “Oh, you know what, you’re bleeding a bit, just sit down, let me grab some Kleenex from my car.” That is, until I see that the blood isn’t coming from her hand. Oh no, that blood is just some of the fresh red that’s gushing from her left temple. My eyes kind of do a zoom-out / once-over look at her, and there’s blood all over her coat, down her shirt, on the ground. I give my phone to Ronnie and tell him to call the paramedics, and run into California Pizza Kitchen to get some napkins or something.
My heart’s pumping. I grab the napkins, come back out, and she’s pressing some tissues onto her head, and the bleeding’s pretty much stopped. We wait for the paramedics, and I joke with her that she lucked out, falling right in front of two medical students. She rips back with “First-years or second-years?” and I get the feeling that she’s still with it. This Is Good. The paramedics arrive, check her neck and examine the laceration on her head, and the hematoma (big blood clot/bump under the skin) is bigger than a golf ball. I couldn’t believe how quickly the thing grew.
We eventually go off on our way; it feels kind of weird to just leave, but she’s in better hands with the paramedics anyway (let’s just be honest here). Ronnie and I start discussing all the possible complications-I’m focused on the hip, then he starts wondering about an epidural versus subdural hematoma. I just couldn’t help but think about how thin and delicate elderly people’s skin is, and how easily it can tear and rupture.
It was an exciting moment, and I of course use it as Clear Evidence from God Almighty that I should go into Emergency Medicine (my latest specialty of the month). Then again, after almost 2 years of medical training, I don’t know that my knowledge really helped me all that much; “apply pressure to wound” is kind of common sense by the time you get your second nosebleed in life.