The pain in my lower back was starting to subside, but my chest was still echoing a pain deep from within. I was scared as I sat on the hospital bed, waiting for more tests to be taken. I felt safer now that I was surrounded by help if I needed it, instead of my chair at home where horrifying pictures of being ‘discovered’ by my kids kept flashing across my mind. The mind can be merciless when it’s just you, alone in the dark, with a rogue pain and a wild imagination. It was the wee hours of the morning and suprisingly, I was the only one in the ER. Until the ambulance came.
I did not hear the ambulance when it arrived. No whirring sirens or honking, just a flurry of activity in the room across from me. Within a few moments, the room was transformed as a single voice yelled for the doctor on duty STAT and made a brisk announcement over the PA, “Code Blue to the ER. Code blue to the ER.” This wasn’t just another patient, this was someone fighting for their life. Suddenly what seemed like a sleepy ER in the middle of the morning became a busy place, with extra staff flying through the double doors and into that room across from me. Kurtiss and I sat in silence as we observed everything taking place around us. A chill went through me and I grabbed my sweater to wrap around the hospital gown I was donning. I don’t think the sweater could really have helped but it was worth a try. Scared? Yes, but not for myself anymore. Various carts were pulled into the room, then pushed out. Voices were elevated but not enough that we could understand what they were saying. There was an urgency about everything… Then it was over.
We did not know if the person survived his brush with death. People continued to filter in and out of the room but the urgency was gone. There was a stillness that permeated through the air. New people arrived. New staff was arriving as well, as the night shift was coming to an end. I still couldn’t hear the updates that passed between them so I tried to read every expression as they walked passed the end of my bed. It all became clear when the family was escorted by, weeping and sobbing, that the patient did not survive. I looked to Kurtiss and muttered, “He didn’t make it.” I didn’t need to tell him, he witnessed the same events I did, but I had to say it. I had to say it because I couldn’t believe that, just like that, it was over. He died. He doesn’t get to go home. He doesn’t get to tell stories to his family about the trip he took to the ER in the ambulance or write on a blog about the whole experience. It’s just game over. The End.
I don’t have any grand insight into the experience or words of wisdom to round out the story. I just had never shared the room with someone who was taking their last breath. I had never been that close to the act of death. I have had people die in my life but I have never been there when it happens. It’s different. Even though I never knew this man (and still don’t know who it was), I’ll never forget him. I was later released, given medication for an infection and told to follow up with a cardiologist. The real reward is I get to go home and write about it on my blog.