Wednesday, August 20, 2008

He barely made it out alive

The rain was pouring into the windshield. The headlights may well have been candles, since they did barely anything to light up the dark night, especially around the corners and over the crest of the upcoming hills.

And of course, it had to be in these horrible driving conditions, was when he heard and felt a definite THUMP. He'd hit something. His wife started shrieking. "You killed it!"

After slowing down to a stop on the side of the road, he sat and took a breath and thought in apprehension about how cold it would be stepping out into the rain. As his wife's yelling got louder, he realized that no matter how cold it would be outside the car, at least it would be quiet, and he jumped out into the rain.

First was the priority of seeing if his car was damaged. Great, he thought to himself. That bumper is going to be at least a thousand bucks.

Then was the important part of checking on what he had hit. Groundhog? No, it seemed bigger. A deer, perhaps?

As he walked towards the black figure on the road about twenty yards back he could tell it was injured, but definitely still alive. Any doubt of that was eliminated when his wife made the assessment from the safety of the car, at a loud volume - "Oh noooo! It's still alive! It's suffering!"

She begged him to put it out of its suffering. But what was it? As he got closer, the figure, barely lit up by the red taillights of his car, started to take on a familiar shape... that of Jeddy, his favoured teddy bear from when he was a child.

Oh my goodness, he realized. He ran over a baby bear cub.

"Dooo something!" his wife yelled, as he watched it trying to lift its broken body, to drag itself to the side of the road. It was clearly suffering. What should he do? Run it over again, he thought? No, that's inhumane. Hit it on the head with a shovel? Maybe, if he had a shovel.

Going back to the car, and rummaging through the trunk, the rain now soaking completely through his dress clothes, he found that no, he definitely did not have a shovel, and that the only suitable tool of humane death in his trunk was the noble tire iron. "Come on, honey, let's just go," he pleaded. "It will die on its own."

"Nooo!" she protested. "You have to do something!"

Back he went to the dying creature.

"I can do this with one swift blow to the head," he thought.

After one blow, he knew his estimate of one blow was way off. He hit again. Not enough. And again.

It was somewhere between the fifth and fourteenth blow, from what I'm told, that the bear cub's mother lumbered onto the road. She saw this unfortunate this man leaning over her baby, beating the last breaths of life out of the cub with a tire iron. And so, rearing up on her hind legs to her full height, she reacted, in the way that only a mother grizzly bear can.

And that's the story of how I, working a nighttime ER shift, got to see a patient who had been attacked by a grizzly bear.

People were handing me bags of saline to squeeze, in an effort to restore his blood volume as quickly as possible, as the machines pumped donor blood into his body. Doctors were scrambling to put in chest tubes, central lines, and stop the bleeding from where his arm and shoulder used to be. After about fourty minutes, we stabilized him, in a manner of speaking, and sent him off to surgery. And six hours after the surgery, they're saying he's gonna survive.

Rural medicine can be pretty interesting, that's for sure.


Anonymous said...

holy shit man, now THAT'S a story...

Jenny said...

... dude...

frylime said...

hope his wife stops telling him to kill bear cubs now...

make mine trauma said...

Yikes! You gotta know, where there's a cub, there's a momma.

Anonymous said...

That story gave me chills. Well done.

Med on the Rock said...

Interesting...was this out in the South Okanagan? I think my partner did this call on my day off. Small world, or not?