Monday, April 6, 2015

I Dream of Being a CPR Dummy

the Godchild of all Godchildren  (Is he adorable or what?)

I stayed at pseudoaunt's house until 3:10 a.m. because the baby, my Godchild, was awake  until then, and I was enjoying  my time with him. He's five months old now. Five-month-old babies are crazy fun. He remembers me from last week because I spent a lot of time with him when I was on spring break. He conked out at about 3:10, so I headed home. He had been asleep from 8:00 until midnight, but then woke up and was ready for more action than just a bottle. I hadn't planned to stay so late, but I have to enjoy any time I can get with him. I'm going back to school tomorrow, which is now today, and I probably won't come home again until Memorial Day weekend.

It seemed sensible enough to go right to sleep when I got home, and I didn't have any trouble falling asleep, but I woke up shortly thereafter in the middle of another of my bizarre dreams. At least this dream wasn't about Mitt Romney, but it featured one of my cardio-pulmonary class professors. Who is worse to dream about: a crazed Mitt Romney, or a person or persons from one's real life?

This dream was a bit stupid, as the professor was going over CPR, which is not in the content of the class. We attended clinic/seminar format short-term classes fairly early in first quarter to go over the very basics of CPR, in which everyone in our cohort had current certification, anyway. I don't even think it was a prerequisite, but does not enroll in medical school without having bothered to learn basic first aid and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. It's just one of those things you don't even have to be told.

The probability of any first-year medical student actually using CPR  in any sort of clinical setting is about as great as that of a flight attendant taking over the controls of a 747 and landing the plane. A whole lot of people, including LVNs, student nurses,  and CNAs (and most likely even janitors when it gets right down to it) would need to be incapacitated or dead before one of us first-year students got anywhere near a patient legitimately in crisis. 

The only real patients we ever touch (I'm obviously not counting the Berkeley Repertory Theatre wanna-be actors with whom we deal in Practice of Medicine, as how could we kill them off on such a regular basis just by ordering the wrong tests if we were not allowed even to touch them?) in the clinic or E.R.  are patients the triage staff is reasonably certain are just drug-seekers, even though someone legally qualified re-takes the vital signs immediately after we do them because we're such losers. I haven't screwed up a single pulse, blood pressure reading, temperature, or anything of the ilk,  and even can hook up an EKG accurately, but I'm not trusted any more than the next third-quarter med student is.

I asked The Powers That Be why  student nurses are higher on the pecking order and should be entrusted with more responsibility than we are, since the one's odds of being accepted into their program are roughly one-point-five-thousand times greater than being accepted into our program. The answer I received is that because they have less to learn, they're further along in their training than we are, and therefore somehow more qualified not to kill a patient merely by touching him or her than we are.  In other words if this makes any sense at all, which it probably doesn't because the time is now 4:57 a.m. and I've had a grand total of eighteen minutes of sleep for the night, because they're at least marginally stupider than we are in the first place, the nursing students are expected to learn less. Hence, at this juncture of their collective educational experience, they've mastered a greater proportion of the less that they'll learn than we have of the more that we'll theoretically learn, somehow magically granting them greater healing powers than those possessed, in theory, by us. (In practice, they're possibly all possessed as in The Exorcist kind of possessed.)

It's a really weird dynamic, because they know that we or our counterparts from other medical schools will eventually outrank them in a major way, but the student nurses and nurses hold their greater authority over med school students and extremely green interns for as long as they possibly can. But for now it's all entirely academic anyway, as in truth, they, too, rank below the janitors, and neither group is getting anywhere near a patient who genuinely needs any sort of medical care barring any natural or man-created disaster not at least one hundred times the magnitude of Pearl Harbor, 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina combined.

Anyway, getting back to the original topic of this post, which was to be my dream, before I was so rudely sidetracked by the necessity of explaining just how extraneous we, the third quarter students, are in the grand scheme of medicine . . .

i dreamed that we actually were being taught basic cardio-pulmonary techniques in our cardio-pulmonary course. I dreamed that the dummies ordinarily used for practice and testing of students for CPR certification purposes were unavailable because the student nursing program was using them. It only makes sense that even in my dream the needs of their program would outrank ours.Because the CPR mannequins were unavailable for our use and it was imperative that we practice cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, right then, someone in our class would have to be the dummy.  With my basic sense of paranoia being what it usually is, of course I was the one chosen to serve as the CPR dummy. 

I may not be Dr. Oz or his female equivalent, but even I know that one does not perform CPR on a person who is breathing and whose heart is beating. (I actually had an argument with one of the nursing students about this, but, for the record, if a patient is bona fide  breathing, it is a safe assumption that his or her heart is beating. The intern physician who mediated our quarrel so diplomatically settled it by saying, "Let's face it. You're both idiots, but in this particular case. you're the bigger of the two idiots," gesturing with her hand at the student nurse. "If the guy's breathing, his heart is beating. Period."

So the crazed professor in my dream was proposing to have all my classmates clear my airway, pinch my nose and breathe into my mouth twice, then compress my chest fifteen times. Had this been for real and not a dream, it would have been highly likely than I would have been in need of actual resuscitation by the time my third classmate got to me, and probably would have sustained broken bones as well, in addition to God only knows what kind of contagious mouth germs if they didn't use a shield, and maybe even if they did. I don't know where Matthew was in this dream, by the way, but he was doing absolutely nothing to intercede on my behalf.

I protested to the professor all to no avail. She held me down as my  first classmate approached. As he turned his ear to listen for sounds of my breathing, I screamed "No!!!" in my loudest voice. I scared my poor dog to practically death. He must have noticed my agitation in my dream and was trying to wake me. My scream woke both of my parents and my brother. They're all up now, thanks to me.  Since I've had that grand total of nineteen minutes of sleep for the night, I'm going back to bed. 

Good night, everyone. 


  1. This sounds more tiring than being awake!

    1. You're ight, Donna. when one has to fight the world in her dreams, rest doesn't really happen..

  2. Dreadful dream! I dreamt one of my sisters died.

  3. I love reading (only non-fiction) and your posts are very enjoyable reading since they are so real. It is almost like they are happening to me. Almost all dreams are bizarre. I strongly feel that they help us immensely.

    When doing CPR you first check for breathing and if they are breathing, then you do not need to check their pulse. You only check for pulse if they are not breating. Also I read online that they have compared breathing into one's mouth with compressions to just compressions and there was little difference so they are suggesting to only do compressions.

    This way you do not have to deal with practically kissing someone and I guess the compressions would be causing them to breathe in some air. Also I read that when you are dreaming the nerve that causes you to move your body stops working so you will not do crazy things while dreaming. But I have noticed that sometimes I will do things with my body while dreaming that wakes me up. Or maybe I was waking up already so that nerve became active.

    The popular saying with doctors and lawyers is that God is in the details since the tiniest detail can mean the difference between life or death or winning or losing a court case.

  4. They taught both methods in my last certification and when we were given the refresher course at school. Compression-only was recommended for the most part. Exceptions (and we assume our own risk in using mouth-to-mouth so aren't required to use mouth-to mouth ever) are when the loss of consciousness is presumed to be related to oxygen deprivation as opposed to initial cardiac arrest, as well as with babies and very young children. With all the pathogens out there, compression-only will usually be the way to go until someone arrives and can intubate, unless one wants to assume the risk when oxygen flow interruptions is thought to be the impetus.

  5. Thanks! I love learning new things, especially when it can save someone's life. When it comes to babies, do they still recommend compressions with only 2 fingers on each hand?