• Brian D. Hinson

Is She Dead?

I picked up a medical professional still in scrubs from UNM Hospital. He just finished an afternoon shift. On Campus Boulevard, we pass by a car parked roadside. The driver’s door hung open and someone was slumped over, arm through the window, motionless. We both rubbernecked and I said, “That doesn’t look good.”


“Is she dead?”

“I don’t know. Maybe passed out?”

“We should see what’s going on.”

I turned the car around and parked behind the old, sunbleached Toyota. We got out and the smell of raw puke hit me. My medical passenger approached the elderly woman and she responded sluggishly. Whew, she wasn’t dead. I couldn’t hear what they were saying as I hung out by the rear of her vehicle. But after a bit he returns with a report, “She pulled over to throw up, and now she’s disoriented. She shouldn’t be driving. She’s here to pick up her grandson.” We were right in front of Monte Vista Elementary.

“Should we call 911?” I asked.

“I’m a medical student, not a real doctor, but this isn’t a serious medical emergency.”

“She needs to call someone to come get her.”


After another minute with the patient, he returned with a spiral-bound notebook with names and phone numbers. “She doesn’t have a phone. And she wasn’t really clear who to call.”

A middle-aged woman with glasses jogged out from the school. “I’m the school nurse! What’s going on?”

The nurse recognized the sick driver, and knew the student she picks up daily. As the nurse talked to her, and administrator came jogging out next. They both knew this woman, and the administrator retreated back to the school for the student’s emergency contacts.

The patient was handed over to people better equipped to handle everything. We got back into my car.

I chatted a bit with my passenger as we headed to his house. He's just a year away from being a real doctor. He hasn’t decided what area to specialize in, but cardiology is on the list. I wish him well.

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