Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Guest Devotionalist -- Pat Patterson
A Real Miracle
He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. Job 5:9
My job is unpredictable, out of control at times. Just occasionally I need a little help, and sometimes…a real miracle.
“Excuse us. Move please. Move!”
My partner, Larry, pushed through the crowd, an orange airway bag over his shoulder. I carried a ton of uncertainty in my heart. Three men dressed in bunker pants and navy blue fire department tees knelt over a small inert body in the middle of the street. The Captain looked up at us and grimaced.
“Boy, are we glad to see you guys. His airway’s as tight as a plugged pipe.”
I glanced at the child’s face. The small brown eyes looked lifeless, his lips the color of a purple Popsicle.
“How long has he been down?” I asked.
“Eight minutes. Maybe more.”
I murmured a prayer. Knelt on the asphalt. A firefighter handed me a bag-valve-mask resuscitator. I placed it over the boy’s face and gave the bag a squeeze hoping to see his chest rise. It didn’t. Larry handed me a laryngoscope. I inserted the tip of the blade into the child’s mouth and lifted his tongue. The fiber-optic bulb lit the back of his throat all the way to the vocal cords. There was nothing there.
“See anything?” Larry said.
I knew I’d have to intubate. The endotracheal tube would provide an artificial airway. It was our only hope.
“Let’s tube him.” I held out my hand and snapped my fingers. Larry placed a long slender tube into my hand. I inserted it into the boy’s mouth, passed it down his throat and through the cords, but then it stopped cold as if hitting a wall. “Something’s down there,” I said withdrawing it. “Do some more trusts.”
“Come on,” I shouted. “Do it!”
One of the firefighters straddled the child, placed his hands on the boy’s abdomen, and gave five, quick upward thrusts. I tried again. The tube stopped short. I felt myself begin to panic. His airway was completely blocked. The child was going to die.
“Jesus,” I said. “Help me!”
I tried again. Same result. My heart broke. I picked the boy up and ran for the ambulance, climbed into the back, and placed him on the stretcher.
“Let’s go,” I shouted.
Larry climbed in. The truck began to move the siren to wail. We tried our best to clear the boy’s airway, to make some kind of progress, to save his young life, but it was hopeless. There was nothing more we could do.
Suddenly the truck hit a bump. The rear end crashed down on one side and lurched upward. I lost my balance and fell to the floor. I wanted to shout, to scream out in anger and frustration. God had failed me.
“Hey,” Larry shouted. “Look!”
I glanced at my patient. His chest heaved, his small face broke into a pained grimace as he drew a deep breath.
“There it is!” Larry reached into the boy’s mouth, removed a small round object, and wiped away a layer of creamy white saliva. “It’s a grape!”
Do you believe in miracles? That little boy should have died. Fifteen minutes without air and life as we know it is all but impossible…but not to God. By the time we left the ER the boy was sitting up talking with his parents, pink and smiling and as healthy looking a child as I had ever seen. Yes, I believe in miracles. I also believe that sometimes all God wants us to do is ask.
Pat Patterson is a novelist, a paramedic, and an instructor of Emergency Medical Science. His stories are true, based on real experiences from the streets of Durham, North Carolina where he has served as a paramedic since 1992.