Thursday, February 22, 2007

Altered Mental Status

Today was a difficult day for me. We learned about patients who present with what is called an "altered mental status". This is a valuable assessment tool for EMTs and can apply to a wide range of medical issues ranging from trauma to medical events or conditions. Of course, this is one of the indications for strokes.

You probably know, my Dad passed away from a massive stroke last August, so it was very strange to learn the signs, symptoms, physiology, and treatment for someone who has had a stroke. I remember the doctor asking him a bunch of questions over and over, which I now know they were using to determine his level of consciousness. If I am recalling it correctly, once they asked Dad: "How old are you Mr. Sims". "47", he answered (he was 57). "Do you know where you are?" He couldn't really answer that one. "What year is it?" He said something like 1968. "Who is the President, Mr. Sims?" To which he boisterously replied, "GEORGE BUSH!" As weird as it sounds, that will be a good memory of Dad, because I saw HIM in his answer. You just had to be there and know him to get that. Maybe you do get it.

I still miss Dad as much as I did the first few days after he died. I suppose I always will.

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