*Warning this piece contains some graphic medical descriptions and medical field situations that some may find disturbing.*
“Hey, could you come here?” Bev called as she stuck her head out of a room.
I hear a note of panic rising slowly in her voice, but didn’t think anything of it as she stepped back beyond the glass door and curtain.
“Yeah, hang on, I’m coming,” I called back launching a pair of used gloves into a nearby garbage.
It was the end of shift and report was finished with only five minutes to spare. The day had been long and arduous and I was ready to be off the unit and out in the real world.
Not that I’ll have time to appreciate it, I thought stepping into the room and seeing a blinding orange sun sink beneath the horizon.
Dark when I get here, dark when I leave, I repeated in my head with a forlorn look.
I glanced back out into the hall where a flock of residence and medical students had gathered outside the room, no doubt waiting to make the assessments.
They’re flocking this way, I thought to myself and pulled on some gloves.
“How can I help?” I asked looking around for Bev.
“We’re in here,” she called from the bathroom, “sorry, he’s just not feeling really well.”
In Bev’s arms a elderly gentleman wretched and gasped saliva into the toilet.
Bev stood behind him hands supporting his waste as he shook slightly from the effort.
“I just need you to hold him here,” she said with a small grunt, “while I grab the Nurse and let her know he’s not feeling good.”
The man wretched again, but to no avail. His body shook again.
I jumped forward eager to help as she held onto him for a second more. I could see, for a moment, her hand shaking and face growing pale.
Something was wrong.
“Is he alright?” I called after her, but Bev was already gone running out the door.
The patient shook in my arms as another wave of nausea hit him hard.
His breaths were coming in strange sporadic gasps and the shaking was getting worse.
“Hang in there, I said, planting a foot and knee just behind his legs.
This isn’t good, I thought now feeling fear raise the hair on the back of my head, where the hell is Bev?
“S-s-sit,” gasped the man as he tried to turn his head towards me.
“Yeah maybe we should sit down-” I was about to say, but his knees buckled and his entire body weight landed on my ready knee.
“Hey!” I yelled, ” anyone out there? I could use a hand!”
Where is everyone?
Suddenly the patient pitched forward and belched out a fountain of green bile into the toilet.
Caught by surprise, I gave a yell and held onto him even tighter. More bile fountained from his mouth hitting the toilet and tiled wall. Light green missed with bits is dark.
That’s too much fluid, I thought as adrenaline broke through the shock.
“Help!” I screamed as his whole body weight pulled against me. Both my arms were wrapped right around the man’s waste and we leaned towards the wall beside us.
Fluid continued to pour uncontrolled from his mouth. To my horror his head flopped forward as he slipped into unconsciousness and more fluid poured from mouth and nose. Fluid was being pushed out of the tear ducts in his eyes.
“CODE! SOMEONE CALL A CODE THIS MAN IS DYING!” I screamed slamming my body against the wall in an effort to pull the bathroom call light and signal to anyone what was going on in the room.
Where are the freaking residents? I thought wildly as I staggered under unconscious weight.
“CODE! SOMEONE CALL A CODE NOW!” I continued screaming as a I heard voices begin to yell out in the hall.
Bile was draining onto the floor, running down my arms and onto my feet.
I could feel the sticky warmth rolling over my skin and had to choke down my own vomit.
“WE’RE HERE!” Someone finally responded flinging open the doors as the rest of my strength left me and we both slid into the tiled floor.
The man’s body lolled sickly over my own as I tried to prevent his head from cracking against the ground. I was beneath him, feeling the warmth of his body on my legs and lower torso.
It was at that very moment I felt the patient’s body tense, ever so slightly, as if he were regaining consciousness. For a moment I thought he was going to open his eyes, push away from me, or speak; but then his body went boneless.
A gurgle escapes his mouth as more fluids dribbled out, but then he was gone.
“No,” I croaked, realizing what I had just felt, “No!”
Someone above us wretched and there was more yelling as medical teams poured into the room.
I grabbed wildly at the man’s neck trying to feel for a pulse, but his head just flopped against my arm.
“I’m not feeling anything!” I yelled, reaching for his arm, “there’s nothing on his arm. No pulse!”
“Let’s move him out of the room,” called a nurse from the code team. Med-students and nurses alike pulled the man off of my body. But I was in shock and couldn’t let go of his head.
“He’s gone,” I said astonished to find myself sobbing as his body was pulled out across the floor. Tracks of green bile traced the spot from me to the now lifeless body.
“He’s gone.” I cried as someone pulled me up from the floor and pulled me out the open bathroom door. I looked down to see someone working on his chest, cartilage snapping along the man’s sternum as they compressed his heart.
His body was bouncing around like a rag-doll and his stomach rolled in waves, filled with fluid.
I gagged and made for the door of the room where familiar faces stood gawking and waiting to run supplies as needed.
They looked at me in my scrubs covered with filth. Their mouths moved as a hundred questions assaulted me from all sides, but all I could do was keep walking. I gagged again and the found the energy to push myself into the nearest secure med-room.
The door clicked behind me and I sank down to the floor too numb to even cry.
The only thought in my mind, I just felt someone die.