Sunday, July 08, 2007

Guns and Roses


Some stories seem so designed for a certain effect that you begin to wonder if there isn't, if not a Designer, a Writer or at least an Audience. Listen to this and tell me how fiction could have improved on real life.

Guns and Roses came to town recently. Twenty years ago they were one of the biggest bands in the world (as an aside, Slash is no longer a member, and Buckethead has been replaced by Bumblefoot - I am not making this up) - and they still have a sizeable number of fans. Older, maybe a bit slower and shorter of breath, but still as keen. And one of the keenest was Mr Stinson, a forty two year old man with a wife and three daughters who had talked of nothing other than the concert "for about the last three months", his wife said.

Seriously, he had all the stuff. All the albums and a couple of the bootlegs, framed tee-shirt, extra copies of the albums in the original packaging. Mobile phone that played "Welcome to the Jungle", tour jacket from the Use Your Illusion Tour, all the stuff.

Anyway, the big night arrived, and Mr Stinson (Guns and Roses tee-shirt, Guns and Roses bandana) and his wife left early for the entertainment centre and got into their seats early. The show opened with a bang and everyone was rocking on, up and dancing and pumping their fists in the air and half way through the chorus of "Paradise City" Mr Stinson clutched his chest and dropped dead.

An ambulance was called, but the situation was far from ideal, and by the time they started CPR fifteen minutes had passed. He came to us - I think the Royal was on bypass - and by the time ED got to him he had fixed, dilated, pupils and only the weakest, most tremulous heartbeat. Not enough of a blood pressure to get blood to his brain, barely enough to get it to his heart.

Florey responds aggressively to these cases. One thing we do is to cool the patients - drop their temperature down to thirty three degrees (that's 91 degrees F, from the normal 37C, which is around 99). We do this by packing ice packs in the groin and underarms, running cold fluids into their veins, sometimes putting a tube up their nose and into their stomach and running cold water into it, or using a fan and wet blankets. The colder you are, the less oxygen your brain needs, although it's more complicated than that.

Having said that, Mr Stinson was as close to death as it was possible to get. An "out of hospital arrest" is rarely survivable, one where there has been a delay of fifteen minutes between the collapse and the commencement of CPR even more so. When you shone a light in Mr Stimson's eyes nothing happened. I only saw him while he was intubated, and the combination of the deep, wide pupils and the large, earnest face was unsettling. His family clustered around his bed and played Gunners tracks to him through a walkman on his head, but numbers are numbers and there was talk among the doctors as to how long therapy would be prolonged. The projected outcome was extremely poor.

However, this seems not to have been communicated to Mr Stimson, because on the third day his heart began to recover, and on the fourth day he started to wake and on the seventh day they pulled the tube out and he was alive.

One would expect that after something like that there would be considerable neurological damage. There is no sign of this. Mr Stimson can move all his limbs, albeit weakly. He speaks, although his voice is hoarse. He recognizes and responds to family, friends, nurses.

But no-one goes that close and come out unscathed, and Mr Stimson has a considerable gap in his short term memory. In particular, the Gunner's greatest fan remembers getting in the car that afternoon - and nothing.

No Sweet Child of Mine, no Welcome to the Jungle, no Knocking on Heaven's Door, nothing. As far as he was concerned it hadn't happened yet. Apparently he took it quite well.

Anyway. There's irony - a word that also means "like iron", as in "this bridge is irony". Thanks for listening,



Blogger indianshawls said...

nice blog

1:22 PM  
Blogger Camilla said...

That's bizarre. Can you imagine him standing - knocking on heaven's door as it were - and God saying to him, "Well, you have a choice..."


4:35 PM  

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