Saturday, September 6, 2008


Trauma can take many forms, something important to remember as social workers and other professionals. Sometimes, things can even be more traumatic for the person who witnessed the event then the one who experienced it. People deal with trauma in different ways, and there's no one right way to deal with it. I, like to write, and so, I'm going to write, even though what happened turned out to be okay.

So I have this guy I'm discharging from the drunk tank. He's taking FOREVER on the phone. Everyone gets a phone call, but seriously, somethings are just ridiculous. So after 10 minutes, he's STILL on the phone, and I need to move on to the next discharge.

So my supervisor, my favourite one starts down the stairs. He's 64, and has a lot of problems with his ankles, pain, swelling, trouble walking sometimes. Lots of things. He's on the side by the wall. It's a half flight of stairs, but as he takes his second step, his ankle buckles and he starts to fall, and there's nothing I can do but watch. It was like it happened in slow motion, as his body hit the safe, breaking the key off in the lock, as his head smacked into the hard metal lockers and his side struck the metal grips on the steps. And the IPDA just kept on talking, as if nothing was going on.

I say his name, as my coworker runs from upstairs, it was a loud crash. I tell him not to move, that I need to stabalize his neck and spine. He's at a funny angle, but consious. And what does he do, he moves, heavy breathing, gasping, asking me to help him get his shoe back on. Don't move I say, we need to stabalize your spine, you fell at a funny angle. And what does he do? He yells at the IDPA who says "what, it's not my fault" and just keeps on talking. My other coworker comes from detox. He helps me kick out the IDPA, and then turns his attention to my supervisor who will NOT stay still, let alone let me stabalize him. He wants up, so we help him sit up, encourage ice, and try to assess the situation. As if he'll let us put an ice pack anywhere, despite the fact that it hurts. He's a bit disoriented too.

We help him up the stairs, call an ambulance, and then wait. We call the manager on call. Get the lecture "don't move anything" (as in the scene, so we can "investigate"), and then we wait. I run back and forth between doing checks in IPDA, and watching my supervisor. We're short staffed, and there just aren't enough of us. I want to clean his cut, but I have police downstairs, work must go on, and so thankfully, the ambulance comes. As the sole witness, I have to talk to them, and then the three of us staff, and the two paramedics have to convince him to go to the hospital. Easier said then done. My supervisor is STUBORN!

Ambulance leaves, I realize that if I'm not careful, I'll have a bad adrenaline crash. I don't know what it is about me, but I have horrible adrenaline reactions, and I know it, so I start chugging water, it's supposed to help. Then the manager calls again, I start my incident report, we start our "investigation", all the while, I have to make sure the 14 people in IPDA stay alive. But, drinking water, and going to the bathroom every ten minutes, I make it to the end of my shift.

Of course, it's not over, because I still have to have a discussion with my manager about an incident report I filed the day before about a sexual harrasment issue presented to me by a client. Then I wander home, eat something, and fall asleep. I'm okay. No made adrenaline come down. The water and the walk did their trick. Besides, my supervisor is fine, and threatening to walk home from the hospital if we don't get over there and pick him up. I'm proud of myself and the staff, as we compitently dealt with a potentially critical situtation.

Then my afternoon nap, the dreams start. I can still seem him falling, like it's in slow motion, one bit at a time. I dream about him, about others, about stairs, lots of stairs. People stop breathing, there's too many people who all need my help, and I don't have my radio on to call for someone else. How can I leave one person, to go yell for help, when my coworkers already with someone. What do I choose to do? What's the best solution?

I'm sure I'll be fine. I always have incredibely vivid dreams, so that's really not a new thing for me. It's only natural I'd dream about something like this. The fact I didn't have an adreneline crash was also really good. And I'll talk about it, and write about it. I'm an extrovert, it's good for me. I can feel whatever I feel, and that's okay.


cb said...

That sounds like an awful shock. I hope everything is fine and that you manage to sleep well.

Take care

Caroline said...

I dream my traumas and anxieties out too - my old dad used to tell me that dreaming was just a free trip to the movies but sometimes I could wish I got to choose a comedy for a change! Glad everything was ok in the end, with you and the apprentice acrobat.

Reas Kroicowl said...

OH, man. I'm sure glad he's OK.

I fell down the stairs once at work. After it was established that I was completely fine (I was) my supervisor said we could use the bruises on my legs as examples for how to ascertain the age of bruises on the kids we investigated...

Matt said...
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