…was the chief complaint of a nice fellow the other evening, but in Spanish, so there was a lot of hand waving and pointing going on. He looked a little familiar, but I couldn’t place him or his spouse. (An aside: I recognize faces fairly often, but not the context in which I saw them, so this isn’t unusual for me, at all).
An hour or so later, as some of the (completely normal) test results were coming back, I had the requested old records and a professional interpreter, so we went back to the patients’ room.
As the interpreter is going back through the complaint, allergies, etc., I’m scanning the most recent admission history, and realize this was my patient three weeks ago. Not just that, this patient required CPR twice while in the ED, and I spent about an hour at the bedside then, working hard to keep him alive. No wonder he looked a little familiar.
So, we return to the chief complaint, ‘chest pain’, and it’s chest wall pain, worse with deep breaths. He says it’s been getting better since he ‘woke up’ about a week ago, but it still bothered him, and the family made him come in a get it checked out, as they’d had plenty of worries about him already.
I explained to him what had happened ‘while he was out’, and described the CPR he’d gotten. That was the first he’d known of that, and was more than a little surprised. So, his chest pain was caused by CPR. He was relieved, and went home to follow up with his doctor.
The family was very gratifyingly grateful, which makes me uncomfortable in some weird way. I’m used to criticism and disappointment from patients, and I tend to shrug off the occasional compliment. This was no different, but it did make me feel good that what we do in the ED had really made a difference, had saved this man with a family who cared for him, and that except for some chest wall pain he was doing great!
The rest of that shift was terrific. Sometimes chest pain can be a reminder that it’s good to be alive.
also posted to LingualNerve