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EMS, Patient Care

Birds and Bees be Damned

In the film Parenthood, the master thespian Keanu Reeves utters one of my favorite lines of all time:
“You know, Mrs. Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car – hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they’ll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father.”

The same goes for mothers.

On a recent job I was reminded that if we don’t teach people, kids, what sex and reproduction really are, they will no doubt deliver and raise even more clueless humans.

THE EMERGENCY
A woman is in pre-term labor.

THE ACTION
I know, I know, I always laugh when I hear this dispatch. Then I wipe my eyes, grab the OB kit and get to work. As with every single one of these kinds of calls, our client is in a public area, in no immediate (within 4 weeks) labor and has no clue what contractions are, let alone her term status.

I too was clueless as to most of the facts surrounding pregnancy when I was her age, but at least I had the basics of anatomy covered.

As she sat on the chair enduring our “many stupid questions” about her previous pregnancies as well as the one now clearly evident, she stated something I think even my 5 year old knows to be inaccurate.

“My baby had a diarrhea today.” She tells me matter of factly, almost like I shouldn’t be surprised.
I immediately shifted gears wondering if she had been advised there was meconium present and just couldn’t recall the proper term. It was when I followed this new road that everything became frighteningly clear.

“How do you know the baby had a bowel movement? Have you been examined? Has anything passed from the birth canal?” I asked, hoping my words weren’t too confusing.

“No, baby had a diarrhea, then it came out my butt. Can we just go now?” Was her response.

Repeated questioning while awaiting the ambulance led us to the discovery that our patient had no idea about the separate plumbing that exists for birthing and defecation, nor did she know how many weeks until she was full term, or what that meant.

It is my opinion that “the talk” was never had and it is clearly far too late to have it now, but I tried anyway, as we always should.

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8 Comments

  1. Too Old To Work August 11, 2011 12:51 am

    “On a recent job I was reminded that if we don’t teach people, kids, what
    sex and reproduction really are, they will no doubt deliver and raise
    even more clueless humans.”

    The sad part is that the public schools do teach all of that. As well as how to have sex and not get pregnant. I know that because that’s part of what Mrs. TOTWTYTR used to teach.

    Chances are that your patient slept through that class, was busy texting, or just didn’t care enough to listen when it was taught.

    Of course back when sex education in the public schools was being discussed, it was supposed to be the cure for unwanted teenage pregnancy and STDs. Oddly, both have increased.

    • Little Girl August 11, 2011 1:36 am

      I have been out of school for almost 10 years and “Sex Ed” in school from grade 6 to grade 12 was and probably still is a play hooky class. You were forced to attend but you didn’t pay attention or you never even showed up expect for the final test.

      Sex Education needs to start in the home with the parents when the child is mature enough to understand the concepts or when the child starts asking questions.

      • Sam Wade August 19, 2011 4:06 pm

        The problem with Sex Education starting in the home is that most of the parents are completely clueless and ignorant too. I worked with a 50+ year old woman who did not know that females have genitals too. 
        At least in a school setting children can get accurate facts – not biased misinformation they are going to get at home, in pop-culture and religious organizations.

    • Little Girl August 11, 2011 1:36 am

      I have been out of school for almost 10 years and “Sex Ed” in school from grade 6 to grade 12 was and probably still is a play hooky class. You were forced to attend but you didn’t pay attention or you never even showed up expect for the final test.

      Sex Education needs to start in the home with the parents when the child is mature enough to understand the concepts or when the child starts asking questions.

    • Justin August 10, 2011 7:21 pm

      It should not fall upon the schools to explain everything, Mrs TOTW had more important things to teach. I think the parents are ultimately to blame in this situation, but increasingly there are no fathers and mothers, only biological parental units. My parents gave me a horribly uncomfortable discussion and I will to my children, regardless of what they learn in school.

  2. Lynda August 11, 2011 3:34 am

    While in the ER at a small hospital but the only one for miles, we had a gal come in swearing she had no idea that there was a six and half pounder being gestated.  Having had two full-termers of my own, I still, thirty-plus years later, don’t believe it can be possible.

  3. Joy August 11, 2011 4:07 am

    Wow.Just.Wow.
    Sad.
    Glad you cared enough to give her the talk.

  4. NJmedic August 11, 2011 2:20 pm

    oh my, too hilarious

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