In The Scanner...

They have to bring the CT bed all the way out from the scanner to reveal a foot-long rubberized platform; I consider standing on it for a second, then straddle it. The oximeter beeps. This chubby nine-year old breathes shallowly, eyes closed. The tool box is open beside us.

One of the RTs starts bagging for me; I've seen him multiple times, a large, happy presence at the head of the bed with great confidence that's infectious. Then we push drugs and thank you dear lord the clean, pink, kid-beautiful cords pop into view for the tube, and I've just tubed in the CT scanner. I breathe at the same time he does.

It's a maxim in Emergency Medicine that you never send anyone to the scanner that's unstable, because they die. The worst words you can year overhead aren't 'code 4', but 'MD to the CT scanner', because that means you've inadvertently caused someone to crash (or, at least, that's how it feels). This kid was hit in the head by the side window of a car driving by his school, and had been asking for his mom in spanish for about twenty minutes; he was sleepy enough for me to follow him down the hall, through three sets of double doors, and to sit in the CT control room, so I was there when his pulse ox was suddenly 86%. I'm pretty sure my staff walked into the control room just as I was passing the tube, and he looked a little pale when I updated him. Everything's under control. No problems. Just a bit of reversible hypoxemia. For both of us, since I didn't breathe the whole time.

He ended up not having much of anything; probably a bad concussion. Lucky, for all of us. Beware that scanner down the hall.

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