What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger…


The take home message on this is that I believe in Miracles– And we could use a few of those- so never give up.

That’s a shout out to: Our Staff: Our Patients: Patient Families: Our Families

Editor’s Note:

How did I get Here?

So I found myself driving South of the Ohio River once again to head back to Daniel Boone country, ECMO land, and plan on becoming the fourth musketeer of the three that currently work here, my cohort of Mr. Ben, Nikolai, and Justers.

The picture above, that leads into this discussion represents part of the realization that I have in my heart of hearts, that me coming here was not by chance or happenstance. I do believe in a higher power and a higher mission, and I tend not to over read things, but my goodness I would never thought that I would end up in this particular hollow regardless of the odd circumstances that led me here the first time.

I just finished an ECMO shift where I rearranged my focus- to try to understand and comprehend the incredible and excoriating desperation that ECMO patients in a cogent, semi-awake state must endure for days upon days as they hear and see the people around them, but are basically voiceless and immobilized to where all they can do is think, watch, and listen.

And what is it that they listen to? What do they hear? Based on simple monitoring, observing a semi-sedated ECMO patient starting to wake up or be aware of their surroundings, it’s pretty clear by watching their mean arterial pressure go from 45 mmHg to 135 mmHg in the span of less than 60 seconds, and that heart rate of 70 tacks up to 125, it becomes very clear that not only are they aware of their surroundings, but they have zero control and are absolutely fearful and overwhelmed by the dread of imminent death.

This is something that cannot be ignored by the ICU staff as we all are aware of it.

There really isn’t a rear view mirror from which we can learn from…

We try to deal with it and certainly there is great empathy and care shown to the patient’s that are undergoing what in my opinion appears to be a complete nightmarish living hell. As healthcare workers we all compartmentalize, we can go into the clinical mode and try to make what we see become more abstract by concentrating on what it is we’re trying to accomplish clinically while at the same time hiding it from the brutal truth that we see in front of us, which is a fellow human being that has lost any and all control of their life. It reminds me of the title of a book by Harlan Ellison, titled I Have No Mouth But I Must Scream.

So on this particular ECMO shift, our patients were stable and certainly many of these observations have been going through my head for the last few months, as well I’m sure for my peers. So I found myself starting to listen to some music.

It started out with Bruce Springsteen and in my little corner of that ICU, along with one of our ECMO nurses, there arrives just a brief moment of joy and leniency because music was the only light at the end of this particular tunnel. I then remembered a very moving video that was made by Seattle Children’s Hospital quite a long time ago back in 2012, the name of the video and song being: What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger-the title of this post. Me and my kids used to watch it before I drove them to elementary school on early morning West Texas days.

So I played the video for the ECMO nurse, and we are both very moved, so I asked the wife of the patient on ECMO that was sitting by his side as he was wide-awake, if she would watch the video and evaluate it for appropriateness to see if she thought it might be something that her husband could watch and that it might or would be motivational and/or inspirational for him.

She loved the video, she played it for her husband, and he smiled.

That’s when it became real, was that he smiled. Of all the things that I had done in the past few days to monitor and manage this patient on ECMO, the one effort that made the biggest difference was the simple human touch of coming back to our roots and sharing music and inspiration.

This is Amazingly Inspirational

Pump Strong!

And stay safe 🙂

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