About Tuesday I noticed a foul smell in the ambulance — a smell like someone had left a meat sandwich under the seat or a mouse had died somewhere in the woodwork. We left the ambulance outside with the doors open for two hours, but it didn’t help. It was a nasty smell, sometimes it was so bad, when I was sitting on the bench taking care of a patient, I wanted to apologize to them. I also wanted to think it wasn’t me, because it smelled as bad as the worst patients I’ve had — not the really worst — the ones with anaerobic bacteria rotting flesh — but pretty damn close — the I haven’t bathed in five months nasty.
The Tuesday night medic said he’d noticed the night before and thought it was just the musty smell when the front carpeting gets wet. Dude, you have to go to the nose doctor if that is all you smell. The Wednesday night medic told me he had his crew empty out the entire ambulance and hose everything down, then spray it with cleaner. Still the stink remained.
Thursday I’m sitting there and it is overcoming me. I’ve got one crew member in the back along with my patient — an eleven year old mentally retarded girl with cerebral palsy who’d had a seizure, and her aide. I apologize to the aide for the smell. I tell her we have looked all over and can’t figure it out. It has to be a dead mouse or something. She says, it smells like it is coming from over there. She is pointing at me. I start sniffing. I sniff to the right, then sniff to the left.
I learn over the sharps box my curiosity peaked. I inhale.
Picture this. CSI. The poor victim inhales. A vortex of green flourescent microbes shoots up his nostrils like dual cruise missles. The deadly spores travel throughout the body finding purchase deep in the tissues. Three days later, he’s on the slab at the morgue and everyone is wearing white space suits.
I don’t know what was in there. Whether some diabetic lost their gangrenous toe in the back of the ambulance and someone picked it up and plopped it in the sharps box, or some alien puked their vile spooge in there, but it was nasty. I was instantly nauseous, my head spinning, my eyes seeing black spots. I fought back the puke that no doubt would have infected everyone in the back and maybe even killed the driver, causing her to go off the road, taking out a few more cars, pedestrians, maybe sprawling across the railroad tracks and derailing a train carrying nuclear waste. We are talking major disater here, affecting the weather patterns, and ultimately ending up in the destruction of earth. A future extraterrestial explorer lands on the devestarted earth years from now, and picks up the bug and carries the Andromeda strain back to its interplanetary galaxy, and we’re talking the end of everything here.
Oh Lord, I don’t want to die this way. At least I saw the Red Sox win the World Series.