Two examples of calls I’ve had with EMS where I believe the power of emotions helped out patients.
1. A 34yo male patient with a metastasized brain tumor, who had had surgery prior to remove the affected areas, needed transport to the hospital. According to family, the surgery had failed to remove all of the affected area, and they were still struggling to fight the battle with chemotherapy in hopes that the cancer may leave. It didn’t look good for the patient. He was bed-ridden and had significant personality and speech disorders as a result of the removal of some of his brain tissue. Aphasia symptoms included trying to speak but different words came out other than the ones he meant. He was emotionally distraught as we moved him from his bed to the stair chair to the stretcher, crying without tears.
When we began to interact, we immediately communicated that we were going to try to make his day better. His facial expressions communicated frustration but comprehension that he knew he had to go with us and would comply. It was tempting to think he had lost most brain function, since when he tried to speak it would come out : “Bunny rabbit batman, those haters are going to school.”
As it was a transport call, we only had to monitor his vitals and maintain care, and he was fine. I decided to interact using some of the information from patient history from his family as well as some of the things I noticed in his room. I asked him about the Batman memorabilia he had in his room. A few smiles, but still frustration and miscommunication. When I asked him about his career in the Navy though, things changed. For about three sentences, I saw his aphasia miraculously clear up as he answered my questions. I asked him where he was stationed, he didn’t know the name of the base or where but could describe what it looked like. I asked him what kind of weapon training he received. He mentioned the M-16 and handguns. I asked him what he thought about the VA. He said something along the lines of “those fuckers are still not giving us what we need.”
Memory is a powerful force, and I saw in person how positive emotions from memories overcame brain dysfunction to create temporary synapses that improved speech.