Don’t want to wear a helmet? Sign up as an organ donor.

Originally published on KevinMD

I walk out my front door today to do my obligatory walk around the block with my pups.

Two police cars with blue lights flashing, lead a caravan of over 100 motorcyclists to a funeral for one of their fallen brothers. They revved up their motors in the procession, I guess, as a sign of love, of brotherhood, of kindred spirits in the motorcycle world.

I choked up. I was ready to cry. It reminded me of that 23-year-old male I once had while I worked surgical-trauma ICU.

A young man riding his motorcycle with no helmet, no protection, flying freely down the highway. Superman. “I’m going to live forever.” Not a care in the world with angel dust (PCP) in his system. Feelings of freedom and forgetting any troubles.

No troubles — until it happened. He crossed the line. Killed an innocent man in a car — a deadly collision.

He came to us from the emergency department. He was paralyzed from the neck down and on the ventilator with chest tubes, fractures to legs, ribs, arms — eyes wide open. But he couldn’t blink. He couldn’t track, his pupils were irregular.

His poor mother called me every morning at 6 a.m. with a crackle in her voice.

A motherly voice of sad surrender.

“Is he any better?” she would ask.

And sadly, I would have to tell her no. He wasn’t better; he was worse.

Eventually, a conference was called with the intensive care trauma team physicians and the mother. We would withdraw life support.

And that was it.

Maybe he would have been saved had he not done drugs. Maybe he would have been saved if he had a helmet on.

Maybe.

An emergency department physician once gave us ED and ICU trauma nurses a seminar. I’ll never forget.

Don’t wear your helmet — then make sure you register as an organ donor.

In the U.S. 19 states do not require a motorcycle helmet.

Motorcycle helmets reduce the rate of head injuries by 69 percent and reduce the risk of death by 42 percent.

According to the CDC, close to 2000 lives were saved due to helmet wearing in 2016.

The blue lights passed by me. His buddies of over 100 in single file, revving their motors … and not one with a helmet.

I’ll never forget the eyes of a 6-year-old sexual assault victim

Originally published on KevinMD

Patsy loved playing bingo every Wednesday night. Her boyfriend of three years loved watching her daughter Jenna who was a tiny and pretty six-year-old her momma called “princess.”

Even though they weren’t related, Jenna called Patsy’s boyfriend “Uncle Billy” at her mother’s behest.

And Uncle Billy made Jenna shyer and quieter than she usually was. He’d walk in on those Wednesday nights and demand a big hug and kiss on the cheek from Jenna — she would always obey.

Bingo usually kept Pasty away for two hours. And one night when she came home, she knew that something was wrong.

Those coal-black, empty eyes were void of any emotion.

Billy was sitting in the dark with a half-empty glass of whiskey and an ashtray full of cigarettes. She went to make sure her princess was tucked in and to give her a goodnight kiss. But there was blood on Jenna’s sheets with her dolls and teddy bears strewn about on the floor. That beautiful blonde hair was in disarray. Patsy shook Jenna, but there wasn’t movement.

A frantic 911 call ensued.

Billy sat silently as Patsy screamed at him. He just took a drag of his tenth cigarette.

Sirens blared and the radio dispatched “code 600.”

We cleared the small ED room for security and privacy. A police officer and sheriff showed up with a social worker. That’s how we knew this was sexual assault. Was it another teenager, a girlfriend or wife?

But we not prepared for the sight of a beautiful little girl laying out on a stretcher. She was almost catatonic and wouldn’t speak and barely moved.

I took her temperature, brushed through her hair for any evidence, and I saw the bruises on her arms and thighs. Her vaginal area was red and bruised. I was horrified and angry. I noticed something else — her eyes. Black as coal.

It was as if someone had sucked the life out of her or reached in and grabbed her soul. Those coal-black, empty eyes were void of any emotion.

A social worker was present and privately asked the mother questions. Billy had already been questioned.

The physician and I did fingernail scrapings, the MD did a vaginal exam, searching for evidence, searching for sperm. We completed the rape kit, secured the evidence and handed it over to the sheriff.

Little Jenna was taken away by the social service lady to an undisclosed foster care home for her protection.

Months later, the physician and I were served deposition papers. We had to go to court and testify that the evidence never left our hands — that it went from me to MD to sheriff. Chain of command. Chain of evidence.

I was nervous, but I wanted this man locked up forever.

Billy ended up in jail for eight months. He got out of jail for “good behavior.”

I never saw Jenna again. I always wondered what happened to her. Did she get therapy? Did she get love and protection? Did she lead a stable life?

I’ll never know.

That was in 1983, and I am still haunted by those hollow black eyes that lost a twinkle that all little six-year-old girls should have.