Death and I work very closely, but never together
I see death in passing about once a week, but we've never actually met.
For most people death is an obscure thought, something that rarely crosses the mind. For others, it is the prominent shadow that runs past our peripherals. Tonight, death worked over time. He was not a blur that ran past as I was turning away, but was a prominent shadow in the room I stood in and the floor beneath me. I didn't see him at first, he's easy to miss if you want to. My focus was on the muddy veins of my patient's right arm, attempting to finagle one last good one to draw from. It was never my forte, but when I did get it, I enjoyed watching the smooth red liquid collect into the tubes; the simple movement of it was relaxing to me in a sense. It was a reward, an earning for my blind pokes that eventually caught what I was looking for.
Grandma is at the hospital, you're working tonight right?
My best friend’s message glowed on the face of my Apple watch. Poor thing, he was close with his grandmother. I looked back at the arm, I stepped outside before making an attempt to answer him.
Yes, I'm on the 3rd floor, what happened?
I turned back and walked inside the dimly lit room, I switched on the brightest light. He was lying with his mouth wide open and his eyes half shut; his chest rose and fell like the soft waves of an ocean reaching the shore. I went back to his arm, twisting and turning it, trying to find anything viable for a single blood draw. Cough cough, his chest flickered with each burst of air from his mouth. I found a vein that I thought could maybe work, I wrapped the tourniquet around his arm and gathered my materials.
Heart attack, I think, I'm not totally sure I don't have all the details.
I slid the message up and turned back to my patient.
“Alright Mr. Jerry, we're gonna give this a shot.” I picked up his arm and placed it close to me, trying to stabilize it and see the veins, when I noticed he had stopped coughing. I looked at him and watched as his body sank beneath the white waves of the linens that surrounded him, and there he was, death, holding Mr.Jerry’s other hand. No, I thought, this can’t be right, not now. I checked for a pulse, looked at his chest for breathing, but where there should have been a rhythmic rise and fall, it was motionless. I mirrored it, waiting for a sudden movement, but none came.
“Hey! We need a crash cart. I don’t see any breath movements, and I can’t find a pulse!” I called to the hallway and started to lay down the bed.
The nurse came running in, “What? What happened?”
“I don’t know, he was coughing, and I was about to draw his blood when he stopped coughing, then couldn’t find a pulse.” I was about to start compressions when the charge nurse walked in.
“We can’t do anything.” She said, stopping me from placing my hands on his chest.
“What?” I asked, looking between him and her.
“He’s a DNR DNI; there is nothing we can do, I’m sorry, Mindy,” she said, turning to the nurse in charge of Mr.Jerry. They walked into the hallway as Mindy panicked, asking who to call and if they should do a rapid response anyway. I turned to Mr.Jerry and squeezed his hand.
“It’s okay Mr.Jerry.” I said to him. There isn’t much we know about death, he seems to come at the most unpredictable times, but I believe the last thing he takes from people, is their hearing.
I pulled the blankets up just past his shoulders. Mindy called the family, and they requested we wait to move him so they could say their goodbyes.
They are doing an EKG on her; what is that? Is she dead?
I walked into the hallway and pulled out my phone, They don’t do EKGs on dead people, it just means they are looking at her heart to see if there are any abnormal rhythms.
I went back to my little “office” in the hallway, which was made up of a rolling chair and one of the movable side tables I stole from an empty room. I opened up my iPad and started up my show again. I watched for about another hour before I received another message from my friend.
She fucking died.
He moves fast, death, he knows no boundaries, has no remorse for who he takes. Within an hour, he was able to make his way down three floors and place his hands on another. How did he get past me? Was he not still in the room with Mr.Jerry? How long does he stay there before moving on to another soul?
I’m so sorry dude, did they say what happened?
It wasn’t his first time with death, but this one would surely hit the hardest.
Idk they said her heart gave out, she was doing okay though, how does that happen? How is someone okay at one moment and gone the next?
While I’d never met him personally, I understood death better than most. He never takes for no reason, and he never takes when someone isn’t ready.
Sometimes there is no explanation dude, when it’s someones time to go, thats it, there’s no rhyme or reason for it, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it, I’m so sorry dude.
I’m not sure that he would ever understand that. Many don’t, they see death as a form of evil that wanders around, grabbing whomever he pleases whenever he pleases. But he does have purpose, he is there for a reason. Many times he is an angel of mercy, whether we want to see him as such or not.