As I walked into the bedroom, it looked like there was more drama than necessary – more than I cared to deal with on this laconic Thanksgiving Day. Our 55-year-old female patient was sitting on the floor, propped against her bed. She was breathing fast and her CO2 levels were down – it looked like an anxiety attack, so I squatted down and tried to convince/coach her to slow her breathing down. But something didn’t look right.
She was trying to cooperate with me, but there was no way her breathing was slowing down. It was fast, about 40 respirations a minute, and deep. Her eyes were closed and I discovered she had some chest pain – which she was unable to describe. In fact, all of her concentration went into her breathing and I, as with the other medics in the room, were just a distraction.
It was at this point that I got very concerned.