Sunlight blazed into existence as I stepped from the carefully controlled climate of the hospital. It was mid July and the days were hitting mid 90’s.
“See you next week,” someone called a coworker as they walked towards a waiting shuttle.
I waved and walked down the sloping lawn towards my won bus stop beyond the main parking structure. Behind me my hospital stood, perched upon the edge of a mountain. Blue-green glass windows gleamed in the late afternoon sun.
Glad I don’t have to come back to you for a few more days” I thought with a smile. The sun felt so good on my skin, warming the ache of a day spent in a cold, sterile environment.
I paused for a moment, taking in the main hospital, and beyond it my sprawling city. It was a beautiful moment.
Taking a turn past the emergency department, I found myself walking down the ambulance ramp that lead straight to the ER. My eye naturally began to follow the staggered windows of the medical ICU unit on the second floor.
It was almost too hard to look at the windows as they shifted the suns rays into my face. Temporarily blinded I stopped and blinked for a few moments.
A swift movement caught my eye and I started forward, suddenly curious. There were forms moving by a shadowed window.
Me being on the ambulance ramp I found myself at eye level with the window, which turned out to be another ICU room.
As I watched the movement in the room I found myself momentarily dumbfounded. There before me was a scene I’ll not soon forget.
A team of four nurses stood over an occupied bed. One of the four knelt on top of the bed, rhythmically pushing on the patient’s chest. Eyes widening I watched as someone moves a crash cart into view, and then a third person placed a rebreather mask over the patient’s face.
“Their coding him,” I said to no one but myself. I was exhausted from the day but enraptured watched the familiar dance of CPR play out before my eyes.
My body immediately went into a fight or flight response as I felt my heart rate climb, thundering in my ears. The sun lost its shine for those moments I stood transfixed, staring out at the four people stepping between life and death.
I was there, feeling the patient’s chest move under my hands, feeling ribs pop and chest recoil under my hands.
Yet I wasn’t there, standing beyond the glass, a stranger separated by what seemed an entire world.
Emotions moved deep within my body as I watched nurses switch out. I felt their fatigue, their anxiety, and stress.
But then a distant honk up the ramp reminded me of where I was and the spell was broken.
Glancing back at the I noticed the curtain was pulled shut.
I shook my head and continued following the familiar steps towards home.