“Screaming Mary Jesus” – Not a Religious Post

The first time I heard this phrase I was working in an Emergency Department in Los Angeles.

Me:  “You brought your child here because you think she might have whaaaat?”

Mother:  “I think she might have screaming mary jesus.”

(Yes, that’s what I THOUGHT I heard her say!)

Once I determined WHY she thought her daughter had what she thought her daughter had, I put the pieces of the puzzle together and the light went on.

Spinal Meningitis.  She thought her daughter had spinal meningitis!  Hard to maintain one’s composure and not LOL at something like that!!!!

Over my tenure in the ED I was exposed to lots of cases of meningitis requiring that I (and everyone else exposed) be treated with Cipro (a powerful broad spectrum antibiotic) in order to protect from contracting the disease.  Being exposed to infectious diseases on a daily basis was one thing I wasn’t going to miss about being in the ED when I left it.

Segue to today….

Today, while working in the MRI suite, a man was brought over from the Emergency Department for a brain scan.  The chief complaint for this patient was “altered level of consciousness”.  It was believed he might have had a stroke due to his atrial fibrillation (an irregular and less effective heart rhythm which can lead to the formation of clots in the heart which can then be shed up into the brain – a stroke).  In chatting with the nurse, it seemed to me like he had something possibly very different.  He had an altered level of consciousness, yes.  But he hadn’t been feeling well for a number of days.  He was running an elevated temperature, and he had been up vomiting in the night before his altered mental status became apparent to his wife.  When she helped him back to bed she noticed purple dots on his legs.  All of these things, to me, added up to “maybe we should be suspicious that he has meningitis”.

Which he did.

FORTUNATELY the patient was intubated, thus greatly reducing the potential for the introduction of bacteria into the air as meningitis is spread by contact with nasal and oral secretions.

UNFORTUNATELY the ventilator did NOT have a filter, therefore increasing the potential for the introduction of bacteria into the air.

So, all those people in the ED who had contact with this patient would be getting Cipro to protect themselves (nurses, doctors, EMTs, RTs, phlebotomists, Rad Techs, etc.)  And off to the Workman’s Comp clinic for the three of us imaging employees who were exposed.  More Cipro for me!  Yay!!!  Only two doses though.  No big deal.  I just thought those days were behind me…

AND I have missed the last two Photo Fridays.  Dang.  I need to manage my time better!


About Lou (Linda)

Just a girl from Colorado trying to live life to God's glory with a certain amount of gusto! View all posts by Lou (Linda)

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