Monday, December 29, 2008

The first life that slipped away

I saw someone die today

To be accurate, she died right under my hands as I was told to stop chest compression and she was pronounced dead.

A 14 year-old girl got hit by a bus as she was going to school.

I simply do not know how to react. I was about to break down when they were resuscitating her and realized that she might not make it – I saw her paper white feet when I first walked in and it hit me how bad things were. I guess seeing the big picture of her cut clothes, her blood-soaked head and her blank gaze brought on the gravity of the situation. But when I was doing the chest compression, as I looked back at forth between her face up close and the monitor, I was more worried than sad – probably because I was too occupied by the task at hand.

I left the trauma bay as the medical staff dispersed after she was pronounced dead. She was left on the stretcher, and I wish I had stayed to find out what happened to her after. Since the patient died, she was no longer a surgery patient and so we left, but who puts her away? Who informs her parents? Who takes her out of the trauma bay so that the next unfortunate human being can occupy that space? What happens to our patients after they are dead?

I did not cry after that red trauma – I went back to work with a heavy heart, but things went back to normal. As I was emailing my dad later in the day to wish him a happy father’s day, a tear drop trickled down my face, but no one saw it, and I did not know why I could only keep it together up until then. And even then, it was just a drop – seems so inadequate for what we lost, what I lost.

Later in the day she was on the local news. She was an honors student and had just parted with her mom shortly before she got hit by the bus to go to school. The bus driver has had traffic violations in the past and was nowhere to be found. Her family was crying.

I would never forget her face – her empty stare and blood-shot eyes, her left hand dangling off the stretcher gracing on my leg as I labored away to get her heart working. I would never forget her tiny little body and her cut bra straps, her paper-white feet and the blood weakly pulsating out of her nose as I looked at her for the last time before I walked away, her black straight hair in front of her forehead.

I found a news report of her online. I saw a picture of her prior to the trauma – I see the resemblance of the girl that I came to know, but the realities are so far apart that I don’t think I’ll be able to understand or imagine what she was like before today. To me, she will always be the girl we could not save - the girl that modern medicine could not save.

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