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It’s Not a Bad Day When You May Have Saved a Life

September 16, 2015

By Cathy Finn

It’s not a bad day when you may have saved a life. It’s a blessing we sometimes have here at Duffy.

Brian came into my office a few days ago: “I’d like you to talk to someone.”

We at Duffy work well together; I daily go into someone’s office and asked them for a little bit of their time, to answer a question or talk to a patient, and it has always been willingly given. I put my paperwork aside and rose to greet the gentleman.

“So, what’s up?’

I heard the story of a man who had been drinking hard for a long time. He was concerned because that morning he had woken up, had a reviving sip of liquor, then passed out for an hour or so. When he came to, he was afraid he had a seizure. 

It had been a rocky road for him lately…moments of sobriety, times of heavy drinking. He had been in and out of rehabs, he had been in and out of the ER looking for help. He didn’t think that the folks at either the ER or the rehabs wanted to see him anymore. He wasn’t sure there was any more help for him. All he wanted to do was stop drinking, and he didn’t think that could ever happen.

I was concerned about the possible seizure, and his hopelessness. I suggested we wander over to the ER, just to see if he could get some help. I knew sometimes walking into the ER with a staff person from Duffy can be more effective than going in solo, since we can help present the problem in a way that the patient himself may not be comfortable doing, and we have an established reputation with CCH.

On the way we chatted; it’s only a five minute walk, but I have learned that a five minute walk can uncover a lot of information.

He started out saying he just wanted to be put away, far from drink. I tried to clarify his needs. He said he felt very depressed, that he didn’t think he could handle life any more. Another moment’s walk and he told me he sometimes felt like ending it all.  A few minutes more and he told me he had a plan; he had a full bottle of medication at home that would surely do the job. I asked him if he would tell that to the staff at the hospital; at first he was hesitant, but he began to understand that that kind of honesty could get him some help, rather than being ‘brave” and not telling the triage nurse how very tough things felt for him.

The triage nurse listened to us carefully, was reassuring, and did her best to get him in to the ER for help as quickly as possible.

While I waited for him to be seen, we talked some more. He told me how he woke up that morning, feeling very depressed and desperate. He said he remembered one thing—that Brian had told him if he ever needed help, to come on in and talk to him, he would make time for him.

This morning, he woke up and knew he couldn’t go on another day. He walked into Duffy Health Center and went up to the second floor to get help, and asked to see Brian on an emergency basis. He told me what the meeting with Brian meant to him. “I knew that was where I would get help.”  He told me what it meant to him that he knew he had Brian in his corner if he needed him. He hadn’t told Brian he had already taken some of the medication that morning, thinking perhaps of ending his life. But he did tell the staff at the hospital, and I can tell you that he is now getting the help he needs.

September is National Recovery Month. Find help for yourself or a loved one at www.recoverymonth.gov or call Duffy at 508-371-9599.