I was sure, a heart had stopped beating. But was it his or mine? “Mister, mister, can you hear me?” But he wouldn’t reply, and neither his heart or his pulse. How come he was laying on the floor but it was me with panic growing inside, coming down through my spine in to my weak knees.
Wake up, faster, respond! Not you sir, me. I am talking to myself. My heart was pumping so hard it seemed it wanted to jump out of my body and share some of its energetic electric force with that other wasted heart. Have I been practicing for nothing? So many hours of reading, searching and learning was now coming back to me. This time was not just practicing, it was for real.
Suddenly, it came to me. As if I had a shake in my body emptying all those feelings and allowing me to focus only on that gentleman, blurring everything else. “Forget your weak knees, put your training to rule the moment. Think of the protocols you have been practicing”. Of course, no protocols have prepared me for the nightmare of failing just when I needed to succeed the most. A real person could die right in front of me and I needed to do it right.
I am prepared, I can do it. Staying alive… Staying alive… The memories of this song played over and over by one of our teachers in many training classes came to me dictating the rhythm of the next pumps. My hands got together not for a prayer, although I could use one. Each push on his chest was done as precisely as I could, following that beat with the right strength and deepness. One, two, three… ten seconds went by like ten minutes, giving me time to think ahead, make decisions and act.
Next thing I heard was not my voice: “Clear!” Thank God. Code blue team was right there, taking over and freeing me from the burden of working alone. At that moment, I could see the bonds merging every single one of us as essential pieces for the success of the team. The calm yet emphatic voice of the leader guiding each one of us on our respective assignments was able to soften the weight on my shoulders. And as we did our job effectively, not just life was given back to that man, but a new one started inside of me. The medical life.
Ever since I got in to Medical School, I have always been afraid of failing. As I enjoyed the emergency field, I have searched for all the knowledge I could get. On every simulation class I tried to clean everything on my mind and picture it as a person, not just a doll, in order to make it the most realistic scenario as it could be. So that way, my mind, arms and emotions would all be connected in one goal: save that person. But even with all the training I never felt completely prepared to do it.
When I finally experienced that for the first time I literally blanked for a few seconds. However, all the time dedicated to seek for acquaintance and abilities did not allow me to be just a spectator. Even with the emotions flowing through my veins I was able to rescue what I needed to perform a CPR.
It is impossible to feel empowered if one hasn’t prepared oneself before facing something like that. Nevertheless, the theory is not enough to make one habile. It is extremely important for us students, to be confident we are doing it correctly. Thus, the simulators, the teacher correcting the strength, depth and speed of the compressions are an important part of our learning process and should never be replaced.
Even though someone has the proper mental and physical intelligences, there is another one even harder to acquire than the first two. It is the emotional intelligence, that we often fail to exercise during medical school. Robotization in the study process has its benefits but it also makes us a bit robotic when coming to dealing with people.
The combination of these three intelligences: mental, physical and emotional, is what enables us and makes us executors at a time like this. The trigger for initiating the action is instinct. It is the connection of the three intelligences and the force that pushes us to our knees and shakes the tide of feelings so that we can do what we have to do. Without this package of skills, intelligence and aptitude, it is not possible to be excellent in performing it.
That day was when I realized that the fear of freezing at difficult moments was built by myself only, and only I could transpose. That was the day when I stopped being just a medical student and became a medical practitioner. It was the day that divided the timeline of medical knowledge, when I went from observer to an actor. The day of a fresh start, not only for that gentleman, but also for me, who discovered my own abilities and limits. That was the day I realized that my greatest passion is to save lives, and that the best pleasure in the world is also my greatest passion.