I watched a man die from a distance the other night at work.
He was a patient on my unit,
a BOP, a bedded outpatient.
Came in for a routine procedure, it ran long, so they
stuck him in a bed overnight for observation and
discharged him the next afternoon.
Came back three days later.
Valve exploded in his chest.
Transferred to CVICU.
The first code was cancelled almost immediately.
False alarm. Critical condition, but not a code.
The second code they called dragged on and on and on.
I know this because someone pulled him up on the telemetry monitor by our nurse’s station, and we watched him flatline, watched him asystole, watched his heart at zero and zero and zero. Watched them bag him, give manual respirations. Watched the forced waves on his flat rhythm from each compression. Every palm to sternum. Every electric shock caused a wave and then fell flat. Zero. Zero. Zero. Absolute zero. Like in space or whatever. So cold. No life, no movement. Zero, just zero. Flatline. Asystole. No life possible, no life attainable.
I watched him die from a distance. From two floors above on a computer monitor. Secondhand death.
They stopped compressing,
and he stopped existing.
Became stagnant, static. No longer
held in the balance, in the limbo,
in the purgatory between life and death.
He crossed over and
stayed at absolute zero.
I never met him, just knew of him, so
what does that mean for me?
What am I supposed to do with
the knowledge that many of the patients I come in contact with
die sometimes very soon after I meet them?
Most things I touch die. Plants, fish, hamsters, my mother.
We can’t spare everyone, that’s stupid. There is
a natural order to things. Darwinism. Survival of the fittest.
All that *******.
When my mother landed herself in the ICU, we knew
where she wanted her money to go, but
not what we were supposed to do with all this ******* grief.
Not what to do with her body.
Not if we should keep her on life support to
drag out the suffering.
She gave no directions on how to live without a mother.
(But how do you direct something like that?
An idea so big, so lofty that directions will always fall short.)
The grief cycle will
always fall short.
Most days I don’t think acceptance is truly possible.
Some days I’m there, and others I’m not.
It’s not linear, it’s not stagnant.
It’s not absolute zero.
It moves back and forth and
becomes the snake eating its own tail.
Where do you go from here? How do you truly move on?
I’m falling through a gas giant. Nothing keeps hold here,
nothing keeps score (but the body).
It’s 5:27 in the morning and I’m thinking
about that man that flatlined again.
Zero on the telemetry monitors, no heart rhythm, asystole. Spike for compression. Nothing, nothing, nothing. The body gets cold when there is no more blood pumping, no more heartbeat, no more brain waves; nothing to keep it warm. Blood slowly slinks down to the lowest bend. Becomes a bruise on the skin. Absolute zero is the coldest theoretical temperature. No movement possible. So cold, atoms cannot move. Electrons cannot hum.
The body becomes this. No life possible.
don't ya'll love this heavy **** I force onto you