A happy medic, but not who you think

Code 3 for shortness of breath. At 0530 hours. At some crazy house. We’ve only had 1 hour of sleep, if you can call it sleep.


A man in no apparent distress is sitting in a chair in the office. Next to him is a woman, presumably a staff member.

“How long have you been short of breath?”

“One year.”

This is going to be an awesome call.

“So, why call now, as opposed to a year ago?”

“I don’t know.”

“Did something happen just now?”

“I don’t remember.”

The woman pipes up, “Because he’s short of breath.”

No shit, Sherlock.

“Yeah, I got that part. What’s different about it if it’s been a year?”


“Err… what I’m trying to get at is, you know what – never mind.”

Christ. Are these questions really that difficult to answer?

By now I’m just about completely checked out of the call. It’s no use talking to these people. I could do better if they were speaking in tongues. And I am dead tired, looking forward to getting this over with.

His radial pulse is quick and thready, maybe about 120 bpm, but when the monitor is turned on, his heart rate is more like 160 bpm. I groan, fearing PSVT and a bit of work on a call that has already annoyed me to no end, right at a time when all I want is to lie down and close my eyes.

And then I see it through my foggy eyes. A brief pause. Irregularly irregular. A-fib! Yes! No need to emergently treat on scene! Get him on the gurney and let’s get out of here!

When your expectations are low, the silliest, most unexpected things make you happy.

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