The Junior Doctor

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic


A junior doctor loses a patient on his first day in Accident and Emergency. But is death the end or merely the start of a new?

Submitted: October 23, 2017

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Submitted: October 23, 2017

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“Charge up the defibrillator!” Shouted Dr Miller....

The emergency room had been buzzing with activity as a newly qualified Dr Miller was fighting against all odds to save the life of this unfortunate female, who's driving licence stated was called Sheila Jennings. She has been hit by a vehicle out on a country road, and was laying there for an unknown amount of time before she was noticed by another driver, who rang 999 and was then picked up by an ambulance. The ambulance's response time was 25 minutes. She was on a very rural and relatively unused road so lord only knows just how long she was laid out there. It was a dry day, but it was cold. She was bleeding from multiple lacerations, had several broken bones and a severely damaged hand which, since it was nearly severed anyway, she would end up losing. But, amazingly, she was still alive and conscious. She had been rushed into the emergency room where the doctors and nurses had instantly set about cleaning and stitching her wounds. Her life signs and physical observations were taken constantly and everything was within its normal ranges.

And then her heart stopped.

“Charge the defibrillator!” Dr Miller shouted again, across the din of the emergency room. All effort was now aimed at restarting Shelia's heart. Dr Miller picked up the paddles as one of the nurses was opening Sheila's shirt to expose her chest. Dr Miller placed the paddles around her heart and braced.

“Clear!” he shouted, everybody took a step back and Sheila's battered and bruised, lifeless body was jolted on the bed. Instantly afterwards, the nurses began CPR, Two breaths followed by thirty chest compressions, then Dr Miller stepped up again, replaced the paddles on Sheila's chest and called out again;

“Clear!” Everybody stepped back and Sheila was shocked again, and again everybody restarted CPR. Two breaths and thirty chest compressions.

“Clear!” and a 3rd shock. And again, two breaths and thirsty chest compressions.

Dr Miller placed the paddles upon Sheila's chest for a 4th shock, when he felt a hand upon his shoulder. He stopped and turned towards the owner of the hand to find his mentor Dr Lynam. He looked Dr Miller in the eye, and shook his head. Dr Miller flinched, then hesitated, then dropped his eyes to the floor and relaxed his arms. He replaced the defibrillator paddles and turned to his work colleagues.

“Time of death, 14:37. Well done everyone, we all did our best” Dr Miller said, sounding disheartened, turned and left the room.

He was sat in the staff changing room, thinking about what had just transpired in the emergency room with tears in his eyes. He suddenly felt an arm around his shoulders. Quickly wiping his eyes, he turns his head to see Dr Lynam.

“You did everything you could have done in there Chris, and did everything right, exactly what you were taught and exactly what I would have done” Dr Lynam told him. Dr Miller looked at him, his eyes a pair of light blue watery pools.

“I know Mick, it's just...this was my first day as a fully qualified doctor, and that was my first death. I lost somebody on my very first day! In the realms of bad omens, lets be honest, that's up there with the best!”

“Nobody likes seeing people die whilst in their care Chris. It never gets any easier, you just learn to accept that if it's somebodies time to die then there is not a lot we can do about it, we can just make it more comfortable for them.

Dr Miller just nodded, but continued to just look at the floor, playing with his hands and shuffling his feet. Dr Lynam looked at his recently former student and he could see his mind racing at 100 miles per hour

“Chris, go home. Take the afternoon off, get your head sorted and come back tomorrow. I'll clear it with the Nurse In Charge, you just get yourself off, you're no use to me like this.”

Dr Miller sat there for a couple more seconds, then picked up his belongings and quickly left, with a pat on the shoulder from Dr Lynam as he rushed past.

Dr Miller shuffled haplessly across the hospital car park, his first ever call up to the emergency room as a qualified doctor still swirling around his head.

He sat in his car, both hands on the steering wheel and just got lost in thought. What had happened? Why had it happened? How could it had been prevented? What could he had done differently? He placed his head on his steering wheel between his hands, then, feeling a surge of anger suddenly rise up inside of him, thundered his hands onto the steering wheel and let out a sudden and violent outburst. Sitting back following this, breathing heavily, white knuckles tight with his grip and his hair handing down in front of his face, Dr Miller took a deep in breath and slowly and powerfully exhaled.

“The gym...” he said out loud to himself

“I'll go burn off some anger in the gym.” he fastened his seatbelt, reversed out of his parking space and set off down the road towards his gym. His mind still racing about the days events. Pulling into the gym car park, he jumped out of the car, grabbed his bag and went inside.

Ten miles into the treadmill he began to feel a little better about himself. He knocked off the treadmill and headed for the weights room, emerging 45 minutes later, drenched in sweat and physically and mentally exhausted. He opted against showering at the gym and decided to just go straight home. Reaching his car, he threw his bag haphazardly into the boot and slumped into the drivers seat. He fired up the engine and set off.

Entering the main road, he started feeling tired. The mental stress he had been put under today, followed by his physical exertion in the gym had suddenly hit him like a brick wall and was quickly draining him. He pulled off the main road and onto the country road leading to his village. He was acutely aware of his eyes beginning to feel like lead weights and he had to sit himself up in his seat and shake his head to wake himself up. He opened his window and turned on the radio. The first song he heard was a song he liked, and he started nodding his head and singing along. Whilst mid song he noticed something on the side of the road which made him stop. A skid mark on the road that lead to one lonely shoe and some police tape that had been blown down by the wind.

“Oh no....Sheila...” Dr Miller gasped out loud. He was transfixed by this scene, it yet again brought home the feelings of anguish and guilt, wishing with his heart of hearts that he could have saved that poor girls life, ran the ward slightly better, gave deeper breaths, ignored Doctor Lynam and hit her with one more shock. Just one more shock could have been the one that done the trick! Why didn't he follow his gut feeling? What if? Just what if? And why? Why her? Why that day? Why? Why!

There was a screeching of tyre followed by a sickening metallic crack as a pick-up truck slammed into the front of Dr Millers car. The impact flipped his Volvo right off the road and into the surrounding field, crashing through a dry stone wall and rolling down a grassy embankment before landing back on its wheels and coming to a stop within a small stream.

After a couple of stationary seconds, Dr Miller opened his eyes after realising he was forcing them closed, his arms were rigid straight, pushing himself back into his chair. Looking around, he couldn't see the truck that hit him. He relaxed his arms and took a look around. His windscreen was gone, the remainder of it scattered around the car, covering himself and the passenger seat. Steam was billowing out from under the bonnet as his radiator was currently evacuating its fluids.

Dr Miller looked at his lap, brushing off the broken windscreen and unbuckling his seatbelt. He had a quick feel of his arms and legs, wiggled his toes and moved his neck side to side. Nothing seemed broken. He quickly scanned around his car for his mobile but he couldn't find it. He had bigger issues on his hands at the moment.

“I hope my door opens.” he said out loud to himself, surprisingly it did, with a bit of encouragement from his shoulder. The door opened with a creak and a crack, forcing metal against twisted metal and Dr Miller stumbled out of the cockpit and staggered backwards a few steps, getting his first panoramic view of the contorted pile of broken metal that was once his Volvo. The pick-up truck had obviously hit him head on, with the drivers side taking the majority of the impact. Dr Miller was amazed that he wasn't injured! The bonnet was obliterated beyond recognition. It was still surprising just exactly how his car door opened. The radiator had now emptied itself of its coolant and steam was now whistling itself free. All of the windows were smashed and nearly every panel was buckled to some degree.

Dr Miller forced out a loud exhale which turned into a loud growl

“And this is just the icing on the freakin' cake, isn't it!” he bellowed into the night sky, kicking the drivers front wheel which was now pointing outwards instead of forwards. Trudging through and out of the stream and flopping down onto the grassy bank, Chris Miller sat with his head in his hands, drawing his fingers through his hair and pulling. His brain, although whirring thoughts around inside his head, was being no help at all. He finally decided that he should really visit the hospital for a general check up. He felt fine but he knew that there could numerous problems going on inside his body, especially after a near 60 miles per hour head on collision. He staggered around looking for his mobile phone again but could not find it so gave up looking, clambered up the ambankment back onto the road and started walking. He wasn't far from the hospital, maybe 3 miles. The walk might give him time to organise his thoughts. He would go to hospital, get seen to there, then ring his insurance company and get his car sorted when he got home afterwards. Walking along the narrow country road side he tried to retrace the accident but he couldn't quite figure out where or when or how it happened. For all he knows he could have been sat unconscious in his car for a long time before opening his eyes. Then his brain fired off a thought. It was nearly dark. He had called “Time Of Death” at 14:37. he was sent home at 15:00 and he left the gym at 16:30 so must have had his crash at no later than 16:40, but it must be at least 21:00 by now. He had been unconscious for about 4 hours! Why had nobody come to his aid? Somebody must have seen the accident or seen the crumpled wreckage of his car still in the field. And where the hell was the pick up truck that hit him? He carried on walking.

Once he made it back into the town there were a few people around, but nobody paid him any attention. He was just a normal guy in a pair of tracksuit bottoms and a white t-shirt. No signs that he was in any distress. He wasn't bleeding or supporting a broken arm or limping. Why would anybody rush to his aid? He finally made it to the hospital and stepped through the sliding doors into A&E. He walked up to the counter, took a self referral sheet and a pen and sat down to fill in his details. He hadn't worked there long enough to become pally enough with the staff to be able to just walk in and grab a colleague for a consultation. So Chris sat and waited with the others.

The alarms started ringing out around the A&E room, signalling that they had an emergency admission and all available doctors are to respond. Chris instinctively jumped from his chair and ran through to the consultation booths, grabbing a spare white coat on his way. He ran along the hall, skipping and jumping between people looking for the patient. He had decided there and then that he was perfectly fine and didn't need to be seen by anybody. It had been 5 hours now since the accident and he had walked 3 miles to the hospital. He was fine!

He came to the booth with the patient just after everybody else. Everybody was quickly working away attaching tubes and blood pressure monitors and pulse detectors and oxygen monitors. Chris stayed hanging back and observed, ready to be useful if he was required. Everything was ticking and beeping and going as well as it should be going, all vital signs were doing fine and the patient seemed to be stable and responding well to treatment. Chris was just about to turn and leave when the patient flat lined and all the staff suddenly erupted into life.

“Begin CPR, pass me the defibrillator!” sounded a voice which Chris instantly recognised as Dr Lynam. Chris tried to make his way into the room but there were too many bodies in his way.

“Shocking patient, CLEAR!” came the call as the patient was shocked, and CPR began again. Chris was desperately trying to think of something he could do to lend a hand. He found some rubber gloves and pulled them onto his hands just in case.

“CLEAR!” came the call again and everyone took half a step back, before going back in and continuing CPR. All the machines still read badly. The patient had no pulse. His oxygen saturations were low and still falling. Things weren't looking good. A nurse picked something up and moved away from the bed, so Chris siezed his opportunity and filled in the gap around the bed when the situation suddenly hit him, like an out of control pick up truck.

The patient was him. He had multiple lacerations to his face, as well as two black eyes and an obviously broken nose. His chest was covered in bruises from where he had struck the steering wheel and one shoulder was dislocated, the ball joint bulging out under the skin. At least one of his legs was broken, although chances are it was both. He looked awful and Chris finally understood why he felt no ill effects from his high speed head on collision...

“Shocking one more time, CLEAR!” came the call again, as everybody again stepped back, the shock was administered and everybody went to carry on CPR, before Dr Lynam signalled for them to stop.

“I'm calling it guys, he's not responding to treatment, his injuries are just too severe. Time of death is 21:57.”

The nurses began the task of tidying up the booth while Dr Lynam stood at the head of Chris' bed. He removed his spectacles and wiped tears from his eyes.

“Oh, Christopher. You were a good doctor. I really hope this was an accident and not you being stupid.” He then placed a hand upon his shoulder for a second, then left the room.

Chris was stunned. He just stood with his back to the wall with tears welling up in his eyes, unable to comprehend what he had just witnessed. He was dead. Dead! He has just died right in front of his very own eyes, right there on the hospital bed. He saw himself being shocked with the defibrillator. Saw his friends and colleagues doing their jobs on his body. Nurses who he had made friends with whilst a student, men and women he had been out on work nights out with, had linked arms and danced and sang with. People he has opened results with, cheered with and offered a reassuring arm when they didn't get what they expected. They were now huddling together, crying, wiping away tears, friends mourning the loss of their fallen colleague.

Chris had come away from the wall and took a few steps towards his body as the nurses were pulling the sheet over his poor, battered head when he felt a hand on his shoulder. This hand sent a warm, exquisite shock wave through his disembodied being and he heard a soft, angelic voice speak his name. Chris slowly turned around, and what he saw was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.

It was Sheila, the girl from this morning. She looked radiant, glowing, with her strikingly red hair falling over her pale shoulders, dressed in a plain white gown. Her eyes were the most magnificent shade of hazel that Chris had ever seen and she adorned a smile that seemed to light up her entire face. Chris just stood, his mouth agape, his eyes as big as moons, struck by her beauty. She spoke.

“This morning, Christopher, I stood exactly where you are now. I watched you as you tried to save my life and I've watched you all day since. You did everything you could have done and nothing else could have been done. I know you did your best and I thank you for it”

Chris was speechless. “Are you an angel?” he asked, his voice quivering.

Sheila laughed at his question “Of sorts yes. Now, no more questions” She held out her hand “it's time to come with me”

Chris reached out a shaking hand and grasped Sheila's. His body was quickly filled with a deep warmth that brought a smile to his face and made him feel calm. Sheila puled Chris closer to her, clutched him in a tight embrace and closed her eyes as the room suddenly filled with an incredible white light, Chris closed his eyes.

Back in A&E, the big, red phone rang from an incoming ambulance. The message was jotted down by the closest nurse and the phone was hung up.

“We've got an emergency call coming in guys” He shouted, “27 year old female, RTC, severe head trauma. Somebody bleep Dr Lynam.”


© Copyright 2018 Craig Arnold. All rights reserved.

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