Thursday, August 15, 2013

thankful thursday : trauma alert

This Thankful Thursday I am going to do things a little different.  Instead of a list of things I am thankful for, it is going to be a long story of the most significant thing that happened this week.  Warning... its a tear jerker.  But I am oh so thankful for the lesson I got/ am getting from it.  I wasn't sure I wanted to write about it, but I have been feeling convicted with how little "real" stuff I have been writing lately, and I realized how much I needed to share this.

Let me start off with saying that the hospital gives every doctor a cell phone programmed to act as pagers, or just to send out their massive Trauma Alert texts.  This focusses on the alerts.  They go to every doctor, every hour of the day, regardless of who is working.  So Kyle gets these all the time.  It really only affects the doctors that are actually working at the hospital at the time of the alert... So they basically go ignored if you are off duty.  So far it has just been that interesting thing to talk about... "oh they got slammed last night!  I had 5 alerts while we were sleeping!".  "Oh it sounds like there was another moped wreck just now" (mopeds are a huge issue down here).  

That all changed early Monday morning.

At about 3:30am, Kyle's phone started going off.  I know what the alerts are, because his phone vibrates 3 times and the light comes on.  I'm a light sleeper... so most of the time it jogs me awake a little but then I go back to sleep pretty quick.  Because usually it happens twice (once for text, once for email) and then its over.  Not Monday.  It went off about 6 times in 30 minutes.  Kyle rolled over and groggily assessed it was an initial alert and then some corrections.  Being that it is now 4am and I know I'm going to wake up shortly again when Kyle has to get up, I was immediately annoyed.  I mean why couldn't they just get it right the first time or two?  Why did they have to keep interrupting MY sleep?  I even rolled over and complained on Facebook about alerts in the middle of the night.  I acted like a child.  And then I tried to go back to sleep.  No dice.  Damage was done, I was wide awake.  So I laid there and waited for Kyle to get up so I could really try to fall asleep again.  

He got up, and almost immediately had a phone call from his upper level letting him know he was going into a procedure immediately and Kyle needed to run the list without him.  That was a little weird.  Never had a phone call that early.

I went ahead and got out of bed at 5.  Only thing on tv that early was the news.  It was plastered with photos of a wreck that happened at 3:30am about 5 miles from our house on the interstate.  I was immediately taken aback.  For the first time ever, the trauma alert I was annoyed with coincided with the time frame of what I was watching on the news.  This was no longer an interesting conversation point between husband and wife.  This was real.

It got worse.

I started to learn details as the news channel got more information that morning.

An under-the-influence driver got on the interstate going the wrong way.  At the same time, a family of 5 was traveling back home from a trip to North Carolina.  Dad driving in a car alone in front, Mom with 3 children (3, 8, and 9) in the van behind him.  Dad on the phone talking to mom.  Dad sees the issue, mom doesn't.  He doesn't have time to warn her.  The driver slams into mom's van.  Dad watches his wife die and pulls his 3 children from the vehicle.  Children.  With very serious injuries.

My husband is on his Pediatric Surgery rotation right now.  He has seen the family all week.  His upper level was calling to let him know he was rushing in to work on one of the children.

Having knowledge of this tragedy has been a big low for both of us this week.  Kyle because he is a doctor witnessing the heartache everyday.  Me, because I was slapped into reality Monday morning.  And I am thankful for it.  I didn't realize how jaded I had become in less than 2 months of him working.    I was woken from my precious sleep while a family was being torn apart.  And because all they had been to me was a text message, I was annoyed.  

But now I know.  These 3 vibrations on the side table of our dark bedroom: they are real people.  They are real cries for help.  They are tragedies like a doctor would have been notified of last week of my brother's good friend dying in a motorcycle wreck because a driver didn't pay attention and pulled out in front of him.  They could be a friend of mine, or a family member.  And I would hope that the reaction from whoever received that message would not be like what I had, annoyed with the inconvenience of an untimely text message, but a realization/acknowledgment that a team of doctors needs to be ready to save a life.

I am not thankful for this tragedy.  But I am thankful for the kick in the pants I got from knowing about it.  Thank you God for that realization that I need to check my attitude in these situations and for showing me at 5am that these alerts are real people.

Because its easy to flippantly say "oh that's just another trauma alert", and forget what that word actually means:  Trauma-
A serious injury or shock to the body, as from violence or an accident.
An event or situation that causes great distress and disruption.
Not something to be taken lightly at any hour of the day, even if you are just the doctor's wife.  


  1. Wow! So sad! I too easily forget the madness and sadness that my DrH sees regularly. It's easy to just bypass the heartache and just focus on our family. Sometimes we need to, but sometimes we certainly could use a swift kick to the reality of their lives. Thank you for posting this.

  2. oh man. what a reality check. thanks for the reminder. i pray that God would continue to soften my heart to the hurting around me... the hurting i can and can't see. i pray for that family... for kyle and for the other doctors. thanks for being real and writing the hard stuff... love you.

  3. So sad and tragic. I hope those children make it. I'm glad you were able to gain some perspective from a dire situation and that you chose to share it with us!


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