I watched a woman die this morning. Family herded near. Huddling for comfort within their sorrow, I was unmoved by their grief. From across the Special Care Unit room, I could hear her gargled and laboured breathing. She was drowning in the fluids her own body was producing. In defence, I had another charge. A grey person in custody not 15 feet away, being treated with the same respect by professionals who, unfortunately must steel themselves. Detached remorse is all they can offer. I can understand, it's not easy tending to those who are dying. As caregivers, they have chosen a life of sacrifice and of healing.A burden, out of a passion to help others.
Curiosity, the benign part of mischief, takes hold and I traverse the room. Drawn to empirical truth. An LCD monitor with lines and numbers record her failing biorhythms. Oxygen saturation drops as resperations per minute meet single digits.I find myself enthralled, almost calling a play by play. Breathing spikes, as other indicators free fall, and time ticks forward. My gaze wonders away and around. I can smell what I had already sensed. Death. It dosen't disturd me, but I have never borne witness as it happened. Discretion provided by a light blue curtain, camouflaging the fact of an ending.
The family departs, hollow, shell-shocked, too enveloped in grief to shed a tear. Shitty way to spend Christmas. I offer empty,but sincere condolences. I watch, as electronically, the death of a human being is recorded with finality. Flatline
I sat with Death tonight and bore witness to its void.
I stood, curiously detached.