An unexceptional day, it started out as, raining cats and dogs outside and in as well. No the precipitation was all outdoors but Sid (the snorer) Zorro (the fox terrorist) and Roxie (felinus irritatus gluteus maximus) were vying for attention, food for the feline and attention for the canines. The evenings plan for a barbecue definitely off. The only thing that is truly constant in our lives is change, we never know really what will next confront us. I received a phone call from a friend, could I come and see him, a family matter he explained. I travelled around and listened to his story, money lent and not repaid, a significant amount, enough for a deposit on a house if not complete payment for some smaller houses. Of that I can only commiserate and advise of legal options open, what really concerned me was his narrative of being woken with chest pain and a head ache.
My advice was to seek medical attention however like many men he decided he would get better. A call later in the day saw me go around and insist on taking him to the hospital, an outrageously high blood pressure was the seal on the deal along with telephone advice from his Dr which I relayed to said friends wife, so a trip to the ED room ensued. ED rooms are interesting places, such a variety of people, injuries and illness ranging from very simple to gravely ill. Some people are here because they cannot afford the fee to see a Dr, which after hours can be 70.00 plus, others because they fear they are gravely ill, others because they are genuinely in an emergency situation. Emergency Departments are great levellers, there is no class distinction, the rooms are small, the curtains provide very little privacy and conversations are heard quite clearly, last night I heard discussions around bodily functions, sexual habits, drug taking, mental health, the whole gamut was there.
Overdoses, heart attacks, motor vehicle crashes, assaults, all everyday occurrences in an emergency ward. The sights, sounds, and smells of the room were as varied as the people, staff have to work with all of these things and more, high pressure decisions, life and death at times all this adds to something that could almost be a chaos situation, it is easy to see how without great organisation this could disintegrate at any time. Well nothing new you say, that is how it works and you are right, what I wanted to write about is the fragility of life and how death can reach out and touch as without warning.
I remember clearly an incident in ED 25 or so years ago. I was there to assist, the orderlies were taking industrial action and they needed volunteers to help out, a badly beaten man was dumped at the door, he was critically ill, dying in fact. I believe he was coning, where brain swells and is forced into the spinal cord, with death the inevitable outcome. What I heard was police asking the guy who did this to you, his answer was unintelligible, the police continued to ask him over and over it seemed. I didn’t think much of it at the time, I was just hoping he could tell the police who did it. I reflected on this last night, triggered by the arrival of some family to see one of their members and I heard the receptionist say that the needed to join the other members of the family in one of the family rooms. This is not good news and generally signals criticality or worse the patient having already passed away. I thought about how ED rooms attract visitors and family members. I guess it is natural to be called in when someone is gravely ill, people gather to be at bed sides as people die,
I have heard medical staff saying that hearing is the last sense to die when people are gravely ill or unconscious, I am not sure if this is proven at all however I wondered if this is so what was the experience of this man lying dying, no soothing words from a familiar voice, just an interrogation, I do remember a Dr chastising police at the time saying for God’s sake the man is dying and the reply that the police gave that they may not be able to catch the guy who did it. I have been there and done that a number of times I guess the logic behind this was that if he gave them the name of the person (or persons) who did this he might feel like justice would be done. It is this notion of justice that I want to explore, and just where justice descends into revenge.