Poppies

It was some time before the Cowardly Lion awakened, for he had lain among the poppies a long while, breathing in their deadly fragrance; but when he did open his eyes. . .he was very glad to find himself still alive.

–L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

After our second dead patient of the day, NRP looks at me and says, “I haven’t had a good overdose in a while.” As if scripted, the tones drop.

Medic 9, the overdose. . .

I hate it when she does that.

It’s on the third floor, of course. The stairs fork near the top without benefit of a landing. I’ve never seen a Y-shaped stairway before. We trudge up the left fork with our jump bag, oxygen, cardiac monitor, drug box and stair chair.

Leo lies in bed in his single room apartment. He’s still awake but loopy and getting worse. He tells us he has a terminal illness, and that he can’t live with it anymore. He’s taken a large overdose of his painkillers, but he doesn’t really want to end things tonight.

We walk a fine line with our naloxone, trying to give just enough to keep him breathing without bringing his pain crashing back.

We load him into the stair chair and start to make our way downward. He nods off, but a quick shout wakes him again. “Leo, how are you doing?”

He opens his eyes and smiles. “High as a (bleeping) kite,” he mutters with a grin and nods off again.

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