Monday, September 10, 2007

The Diabetic Dummy

It is the night of the State Test, and already, the line stretches to the set of double doors.

No, not THAT line. That line has several hundred extremily nervous, nail-biting, coffee-chugging maniacs in it. This is the other one- the volunteer line. And only slightly less nervous then the test takers.

"Come with me, please," one of the instructors, his cold, beady eyes sweeping the assorted mob, snaps out. "Probably can't use you all, but we'll see what we can do."
Heels clatter, shoes stomp, following him down the narrow middle school corridor-and we enter a teacher's lounge,now converted to a makeshift strategy room.

Victim #1 is chosen, receives her instruction sheet and moves off to an adjoining room for makeup. The rest of us stare in nervous fascination at the "gunshot wound with bone protruding" job on her right leg. Bone and blood ooze together in a very realistic representation of the real thing. (We are students, and impress easily)

Victim #2 is in anyphlactic shock.Multiple brown dots adorn his cherry red face.

And I am Victim #3. As I receive my instruction sheet, my eyebrows shoot up(practically to the hairline) and I think it is something more then coincidence that I will be role-acting the hypoing diabetic. (not that I'm not VERY good at it, I've had so much practice) It must be true, I must really look like one..Either that, or its because I'm small(and more easily lifted).

My makeup job is a chalkwhite face, complete with beaded drops of glycerin rolling off the forehead(to simulate sweat). I look very much the part(and am just sorry that Halloween was over two weeks previously, I could have had some fun with this).

As I leave the room with the designated scenario instructor, my EMT teacher looks at me and laughs. "Did you tell him you really are D, Heidi?"

I hadn't quite gotten that far in the intros- I glance over at the instructor, who is standing stock still(a glazed expression spreading across his pained face).

"Yes. I promise I'll do this RIGHT."

"I bet you will, but please don't do it for real!!!!!"
(Cross my heart, hope to die. NOT likely.)

We get to the classroom, finalize certain instructions, and the fun begins.(After confirming that I'm nowhere near hypoglycemia, at 149 mg/dl)

The first two test takers enter the room. They are exceeding nervous, as am I. I'm doing this for the experience, but I don't know what their instructor has(or failed to) taught them.

"Hey, we're Jack and Jill*- what's your name?"

The instructions say I'm allowed to state my name, the last meal of the day, and that I take insulin. Other then that, I'm supposed to act confused/answer the questions wrong.
So I respond, and promptly shut my eyes. Fake reactions are so much easier then real ones. I can moan + thrash around to my heart's content, make these kids really nervous. I can't simulate the shaking though. Jill takes my blood pressure, which is off a good 30 points from what it is actually. Not good to guess on ANYTHING, instructors know all. You'll fail the scenario.(they did)

Every group is different with the questions asked, procedures performed. One group thought an adequate treatment for my shock was a pillow under the head. While being thoughtful, it wouldn't have done anything for the hypoglycemia. I had a hard time not waking up from my coma and telling them they'd just killed me. (that was just the one group, all the others made the correct diagnosis) Another group of firefighter guys asked me what kind of insulin I took.(that's not exactly a crucial piece of info-most emergency personal leave it at "Are you on insulin?" My diabetic autopilot spat out "Novolog" before I could consider if I was supposed to answer that for real. They didn't know, but it obviously marked me as a REAL D. It was a timed test, with alot of steps to cover.

At the end, my own blood glucose rang in at 329 and I was somewhat cranky at the blood pressure cuff torniquet attempts, shined lights in eyes, and the stress of lying on the hard floor for 2 hours. Yes,I'd learned enough to be more relaxed/expectant of what my own test would be like(the following month) but if you're going to be the dummy patient for a group of (any) students, don't be the diabetic dummy. Go for something more a broken leg.(as long as you don't have to backboarded)

And speaking of life on the other side of the gurney,I've got to complete all my continuing education(CE) hours(to be turned in by Dec.2008) so I don't lose my certification.(I do not want to go through another 3 month class/state test) If I can't get accepted to any of the spring nursing programs, I will definatly be completing the CE stuff.(at least)


Kassie said...

that is too funny! I don't know if I could fake a reaction. I'd probably just imitate my husband when *he's* low :) I dare say I've witnessed much worse reactions than I've experienced!

Drea said...

Ohhhh I love being the pretend patient!!! I think I can do an excellent job!

I just recerted my registration the other day FEUF!! Such a hassle...but even worse to go through the testing and course HA!!

Minnesota Nice said...

What a hoot! The white make-up is too much!
Actually, when I broke my ankle and was in the ambulance they were going to give me iv glucose without testing me first. One of the guys said, "oh, I thought you fell because you were low.......". No, I fell because the sidewalks were covered with ice.
They were pretty cute, so I forgave them.

Scott K. Johnson said...

Wow! What a coincidence!

Jonah said...

That's funny :-)
I don't think I could fake a hypo. When I'm very hypo I answer all questions with "I'm sad" or "go away".

Jana said...

Before I was on the pump, I had a lot of bad lows, and my roommate learned to recognize them practically before I did...the biggest sign? I had a strange tendency to blurt out "I feel kooky." I never use the word 'kooky' normally--apparently only when I'm low.

type1emt said...
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