Vital Signs: The Woman Who Needed to Be Upside-Down
The emergency room was busy that afternoon. I had just started my shift and was making my way through a scrum of frantic doctors, nurses, and orderlies when I heard yelling coming from the ambulance bay entrance.
“Put her down now!” I recognized the stern voice of Herb, one of our security guards.
“Get a stretcher, stat,” said Ellie, the head nurse.
“You’re hurting her,” a woman yelled.
I ran to the ambulance bay, rounded a corner, and saw a huge man, seven-foot-something, holding a petite woman, maybe five feet tall, by her feet, her head dangling down. “I have to hold her this way,” the man insisted.
“I’m fine,” said the woman through her dangling long black hair. “I feel OK now.”
Herb grabbed at the man’s muscular arms, attempting to free the woman.
“This is my wife,” the giant shouted. “Let go of me.” He glared at Herb, who kept pulling at his biceps and wrists. A large group of ER personnel was now watching them from a distance.
“Let’s everybody take a deep breath here,” I said. “What’s your name, sir?”
Herb released his grip on the man and took a step back.
“Jason,” he said, more calmly now.
“Okay, Jason,” I said. “Why are you carrying your wife by her feet?”
“Hi, Dr. Janeira,” said the upside-down woman. “Remember me?”
“No,” I said. “Have we met?”
“Yes, I was here yesterday,” she said. “Remember? With the slow heartbeat?”