Night Shift

stethoscopeb“Doctor! The patient has gone into arrest”, came the voice waking me from sleep. I was the duty doc for the night. Just another usual night, came a voice from within.

I searched for my glasses, splashed a palm-full of water over my face, and with my bearings straight, i rushed to the patient.

The Staff nurse had pulled a screen around. I walked in and picked the patient’s limp wrist. There was no pulse. I felt his neck, no pulse there either. I placed the steth over his chest and i could hear no lub-dubbing of the heart. There was only the eerie silence that mingled with the dim lull of the quiet night.

I had the nurse load a syringe with adrenaline and another with atropine, as Staff and I started with CPR. We pushed in one ampule each of the two drugs. The heart didn’t budge. I asked them to load another. The nurse was digging into the emergency tray while Staff and I continued with the chest compression and AMBU ventilation in a bid to keep the brain alive.

As we were heaving, pumping and pushing drugs into the patient, i saw a face emerge through the pulled screen. It was solemn, and the eyes brimming wet. It would be this gentleman’s wife I presumed. Her face lingered in there for one unsure second and then slowly receded.

The nurse brought the second dose of adrenaline and atropine. I pushed it in and hoped for the heart to kick in.

Curiously though, in my mind, blinked the face of that wife and I could not bear to behold its weight. I wondered what would be her state of mind. I knew I would fall short of the gravity of her pain, yet my mind lingered on.

She would be pained by the impeding loss. The relationship of a husband-and-wife is amongst the most dear and deep of all. The pain of separation would be an iron-pike passed through her heart.

But that wasn’t all. Beyond the excruciating pain of loss was the fear of the unknown. How was she to keep her family? She had to provide for her children, see them grow into good, worthy men and women. How was she to stand-up to this huge responsibility, all by herself, all alone? She had but only herself to grind and bear its whole weight.

How she would long for it all to be unreal! How unreal would this all seem to her. She would have found this guy. Loved him. Brought up a loving, caring family. Dreamt of only happiness and happy days. But now she stands to see in gory detail it being striped and split into splattering splinters. The shards piercing through her fragile self.

I wished, hoped, prayed for my patient to survive. I was overwhelmed, too overwhelmed with his wife’s plight that I wanted an alternate reality wherein they would live together. Wherein, he doesn’t fall sick and wherein, he sticks to his sweet significant other for till eternity.

flatline_8205But even with the third shot of adrenaline and atropine, there wasn’t any sign of life. I walked through the check-list before committing to the brutal reality that the gentleman, my patient, and his now aggrieving wife, happily wed till then, were to separate now on his death.

I declared him as no more. Informed his wife. And she fell like a house of cards in a gush of wind. I was in my room. But i couldn’t sleep the rest of the night. What was it that i could have done? Why couldn’t i save him? Why couldn’t i?


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