If you're a patient in a hospital, wouldn't you want to know
exactly how many people have died in the room
you're currently sleeping in?
How many hearts have stopped beating, how many
lungs have deflated, how many
pupils have stopped responding to light—
how long CPR was
Time of Death
How many DNR patients waltzed into the afterlife
without so much as a half-hearted chest compression?
Ribs can break during CPR.
How many cracked ribs have echoed
across the walls of your
Eve was made from Adam's rib.
God plucked the bone and
fashioned it into a
subservient woman to
replace the wild one,
the first one, the no good one,
the woman made from the same soil as Adam:
We break ribs, break wishbones, break most things we don't understand. A confused patient will take out his IV, his PICC line, even pull at his chest tube or his LVAD driveline.
If it doesn't make sense, we will try to eliminate it in the sake of
Some time in August, we had two codes within one hour. After 30 or so minutes of chest compressions, they pronounced the second man dead. He wasn’t my patient that night, and I didn’t know him. I think his ribs snapped under Alyssa’s hands when she tried to revive him.
And what does that feel like? Not just the desperate rush of adrenaline,
of trying to bring someone back to life—not just the emotional,
but the physical of it all.
The cracking of the bone beneath the heels of your hands.
Your fingers laced on top of each other
against the sternum.
One, two. One, two. One, two.
The bone cleaves in half.
And how much pressure does it take?
I’m sure science could tell us, but
how does it feel in your arms, in your shoulders—
will your muscles remember the strength it takes and
stop you next time?
How hard did God have to try when he ripped out
Adam's rib to make Eve? And
how long did it take Adam to recover from the loss?
(Maybe he never did.)
Healthcare is still so barbaric. You must hurt to help.
Saw through the sternum to get to the heart.
Insert a painful tube to remove the excess fluid.
Drill through the skull and remove
potentially useful brain matter.
I have nightmares of tripping over IV tubing and
ripping out PICC lines. I am terrified of
dropping someone's chest tube on the floor,
of it ripping violently out of their lungs.
It's not my blood, it's some else's,
and that makes it so much worse.
Being responsible for another human's well-being
is actually terrifying.
I just want to be helpful. I don’t want to hurtful. But so often,
I find myself damaging the ones I love.
I would rather have my brain-dead sternum sawed open than
rot in some hole in the ground like my mother if it
would mean that I could be useful.
And all we really want is to be useful.
To feel something. To be something.
To be proud like the original sin.
Remove my ribs. All 24 of them.
Make them into several new women with
several new names and
eye colors and
Their lives would be more beneficial than my death ever could be.
Like Eve with Lilith, replace the bad, with the seemingly good.
Replace the soil with the body.
It all has to come from somewhere.
How to keep the self close and yet distant from trauma.
part of a larger work based on my work as a cna in a hospital