How do you heal?

His hand went wrist deep into a vat of hot- 350 degree hot- tar. He pulled it out, looked at it and had his son call 911. We were enroute to a combative, emotional, suicidal female at the time, and were driving right past the man with the tarred hand. The emotional combative female could wait.

It’s a family business, he had stopped for a coffee with his son and daughter between jobs. They waved us down and directed us to their dad, who sat on the bumper of the trailer that held the tar vat. He looked at me, and I could sense the pain coming from him, but he acted like it was no big deal, for his kids sake, and walked into the rescue. I helped him in, and iced the hand with sterile water and some ice bags. The ER was less than a minute away, we got rolling, taking his daughter with us.

He was able to tell me all the pertinent information, and smiled as he did so, occasionally grimacing. I wanted to administer some morphine, but we were at the hospital before I could get it out of the package. He didn’t mind, said it wasn’t too bad, and he and his daughter went in together, him on the stretcher, her holding his good hand.

I could see the skin oozing from the tips of his fingers, and blood seeped through the tar, yet still he smiled. They got him in a room, and started treating him, and gave some dilaudid, and only then did tears form behind his eyes. His son joined them, and soon after his wife.

As I walked out the ER door, the emotional combative suicidal female was walking in. She wasn’t combative now, but just sad. She wore a summer dress, and sandals, and looked perfectly fine, but inside she was burning. I wanted to bring her into the trauma room with the family I had just left, and maybe some of the love and dignity that oozed from the little room would seep into her subconscious, and make her feel better. But things just don’t work that way.

I returned an hour later, with a combative, intoxicated male. The girl was on a stretcher in the corner. They wheeled the intoxicated combative male, who had stopped being combative but was full of hate and misery next to her, where they will stay for hours, under the watchful eye of security.

And the family a few doors down will heal.

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