I feel like I owe some sort of post about what put me here. That seems irrelevant right now. Everything seems irrelevant right now, which probably makes this the worst sort of time for me to try and write a post and start untangling the past few days. I have a load of scattered facts and thoughts and observations peppered throughout the notes section of my phone, and I guess that can lead the way (warning – this may be hard to read, and deals with death). I don’t even really know why I’m writing this. Then again, I’m not sure why I’m doing anything at the moment. I don’t even care about university. Not the tiniest bit. I opened my laptop to find last week’s discharge summary still folded up between the screen and the keyboard, and lecture notes still on the screen. I didn’t want to type up anything, not even for something to do. There was nothing there – complete apathy at the sight of something that usually sends sparks of interest around my brain.
I spent my afternoon listening to a man die. I knew his name. I knew his face. I knew his family. He looked like my great-granddad. I’ve seen dead bodies before. I’ve sat on wards when there have been cardiac arrests, I’ve seen dead kids and babies during my time on children’s wards, and I’ve seen all sorts in resus. Maybe it was because I was already broken. Maybe it was because I’d been up until 4am crying, with a nurse who left me laying in bed sheets soaked in blood that had poured from my central line when it was left unscrewed for a few minutes and nobody noticed… But nothing has ever, ever affected me like this. Nothing could ever have prepared me for that process. The listening.
The laying there.
The “He’s not lasting long. Can we get him some morphine and let’s just erm…”
The “I think that’s all we can do really. He’s taken a significant turn for the worst. I would erm… Turn the alarms off. How long until the family can get here?”
The watching the doctors walk away, not even try, and hating the world, and wanting to scream at them to please get back in there and please, please intubate him again or try something.
The watching his relatives filter in one by one.
The hissing of the machine stopping.
The sobbing as a voice struggles to say “I just want you to know I love you dad, you know that don’t you? We all love you.” Between tears.
The calm, older voice that says, “Ok. We’re all here. Ok. Ok. Ok. Ok. Ok. Ok. Ok… Ok… Ok… Ok.” And stays strong for everyone else.
“I didn’t think it would be so quick.”
And the couple of relatives that can’t deal with it all rushing out from behind the curtains and wailing as if they’ve been stabbed, as they experience a pain I cannot imagine but that I want to take away.
And the “I’m glad it was so quick.” Of the one that just can’t cry, not then, not there.
And they just sat with him, on the other side of the curtain, telling him they loved him as my friends sat in a practical at university stressing over DNA sequences. It didn’t matter any more. I lay there and I cried with them. As I listened to him being read his last rites I prayed with them. I had no right to cry, no right to hurt, but along with that of my nurse, my heart broke as his stopped.
And all I can see is his face. All I can hear is that gurgle of a final hopeful breath that seeped from his lungs minutes after his heart stopped and reignited fresh hope in his distraught relatives’ hearts. I can see him laying in that bed for the last five days beside me, heaving in air, ripping out NG tubes and wires and everything in his confused state, refusing pureed macaroni cheese and improving and deteriorating over and over. And I try to think that it’s over now. That it wasn’t a life. That he was granted the wish I wished for so hard. And then I see him with his wife. And I hear the stories she told of him. And I remember that it was a simple surgery that gave him the chest infection that killed him. And I hate the world. Because it isn’t fair. And it isn’t ok. It isn’t ok. And I hope and pray that he can rest in peace. I hope that his suffering is over, that he didn’t know. They think his death was quick but it was slow and drawn out and I listened to him all day for hours before they showed up. Fading. Going. But they don’t need to know that. And I wish I didn’t.
My friends came to be with me. “Batman” brought me chips and sat while I slept an unfightable sleep and the man lay dying bedside me, but left before his family arrived. Uni babe and Uni Pal weren’t there when the man died but they stood on the other side of the curtain from his body after he’d gone. They brought me chips and a drink. Because I mentioned what was happening and they wanted to be there because they knew I was broken.
And now I have no sympathy for the living – not the sick and dying, but the living. The actual living. I have no sympathy for the friend that messaged me moaning about having a boring lecturer tomorrow. I don’t care. I don’t care about anything. I don’t care that I’m off of oxygen and got stepped down to my usual ward tonight. I don’t care that I got Einstein and Albert this morning or the huge conversation with my specialist nurse that was momentous at the time. I don’t care that I was/am leukopenic. I don’t care that I have the start of a UTI. I don’t care. I can’t care. I don’t even care enough to want to be dead any more. At some point I will explain it all. At some point I actually will write out all of the notes section on my phone. For now. I. I don’t know.
I don’t know any more.
Mum the old man next to me is dying
Mum they’ve given up they’re calling his family and turning everything off and I’m crying omg
They’ve just given up
I don’t even know him and this is killing me
And then came the anger at the world. The messages where I was furious because the whole situation was so helpless, and I sat there and cried for this man I never knew.
And then later,
Mum they’re all chanting a prayer for the man and now he’s being read his last rites and everyone is sobbing
And they’re going to turn everything off
His name is [his name]
THEY JUST TURNED OFF THE MACHINE
OH MY GOD
ASDFGHJKL *a million crying faces*
Oh my god I can’t
I can’t even
Mum he’s gone