• At Life’s End

    I had become immune to the blaring sounds of sirens rushing towards me, I had become immune to the stinging hospital smell that used to burn my eyes; but there was something, something I could not defend myself against. Never shall I become immune to the sight of death, to the cries of pain, and to the burning, agonizing sight of suffering beyond my prevention.
    Part One:
    She laid there, a bloodstained, lifeless corpse. Why did I choose this career, I asked myself yet again. I knew, however, this could not last long; I would get through it again, but never forget. My hands seemed forever red, covered in the blood of another innocent dead human being.
    "They’re in your hands now," they would say when they brought in the new patient; they had no clue how very true that is. I felt stuck in a never ending pit of despair and death, everyone’s but my own. There were days I wished it could be me in someone else’s hands, with them in control of whether I lived or died. Days I wished I was dead.
    A heavy pain hit me head on when I saw my new patients face. It looked similar to that of my daughters, who had died after a car crash when she was 3 years old. Paramedics brought her to me to "save" her, to say whether my own daughter lives or dies. They act as if I can control that. I blacked out and felt my head hit the hard linoleum below. I could hear voices but see only darkness, it sounded like the voices were beckoning me closer, further into the deep pit of black.
    At first I thought I had passed out, and people around me were panicked and trying to get me back. Then I felt a sharp pain, a sense of confusion, and a knowledge that was not there before. I was either dead or about to be and I had to fight. At this time I hoped I was dead. Maybe my wishes had come true; maybe they were controlling my life. I imagined myself as a pale, porcelain color, eyes shut, mouth dry, completely still in every way. I shuddered at the thought and tried to break through the abundant darkness.
    I cringed as my sense of feeling came back and I felt a large pain like I was being stabbed with various knives. I opened my eyes in a distinct reaction to this pain. I looked around, seeing an old man appearing like he was preparing me to be buried. He whistled towards me and I sat up stiffly and in pain. His eyes bugged out of his head and he gasped mouth falling wide open. "OH!" he dropped his utensils and I laughed lightly to myself. Slowly his eyes traced my stature then he cocked his head and whimpered "You’re alive?" I lost it and bust out letting a barreling laugh burst from my mouth. This harsh action caused me pain, but I could not control it. He slowly lowered himself to the ground embarrassed and began to pick up what he had dropped.
    I examined my surroundings dizzied by the drugs that had been pumped into me. It was then I realized the seriousness of my situation. My breath became heavy, and I saw many more corpses lying around me, the one place directly next to me was the small child that looked like my daughter. I hyperventilated and leaped up shaking when I realized my balance would not be a thing to rely on. I stumbled backwards away from the cold corpses hunting for the door. The room began spinning and I plopped down onto the tile with a large thud in an upright sitting position.
    Placing my head carefully into my hands I shivered in fear and tried not to think about where I was. I jumped when I felt a hard; stone-like hand on my shoulder slowly I glanced up from the shield my hands provided. My eyes scanned the figure in front of me; a small shriveled old man with bright blue eyes and a seemingly broken nose was perched on my shoulder looking distraught and confused. He tilted his head slightly to the right and gazed at me until I finally spoke. My voice cracked and shook as I managed a few words out "Where, what, Hi." I struggled the words out in a jumbled flow making it sound like I was speaking a foreign language. His eyes widened and his teeth began to chatter softly together in a steady beat he swallowed and the morgue was silent again. We sat staring at each other both with matching confusion taking over every other emotion; the fear, the pain, and the angst were all gone and covered by confusion directed toward the scrawny man in front of me. I shook his stone hand off of my shoulder and he fell to the ground after gasping for air loudly and violently.
    It took a moment for my already slow brain to grasp what had just occurred. Once I had a moderate understanding of the situation, I whisked the body out flat onto its back and performed CPR. My attempts failed, and no pulse was found I rose slowly and as if it was instinct, I announced “Time of death 8:04PM. Cause of death, unknown.” Once again, I began to wander aimlessly in search of the door. It seemed as if the room was completely enclosed, circular, and there was no way out. I began hyperventilating and sauntered around the corpses scattered in various places in the tiny morgue. The blazing lights reflected their gleam off the white walls which did not help me find my way out. It felt like I was walking around for hours, only to find, nothing.
    Feeling hopeless I curled into a tiny ball in the middle of the glistening corpse filled room, shaking slightly. My eyes scrutinized the room one last time before they fell closed lightly and the blackness I had met before returned once more. This time however, I was sure I was not dead. My body was shutting its self down in a reflex to the panic and angst I was tangled in. I began to try to escape the black once again, but fell tired and gave up shortly after beginning the battle. I let myself slip into the comforting numb darkness, my mind easing as all memories were retracted from the prior hours.
    Part Two:
    My eyes glided gently open, and closed causing my vision to blur in and out of clarity. My mind was a complete blank, though I somehow still knew where I was, however, it was seemingly a mystery as to how I got there. I heaved myself up; eyes still half closed and stumbled around. It appeared that I knew somewhat of where to go, and my hand slid along the wall until I felt a small round metallic button lying under my index finger. Silently I pressed down on it lightly and a sliding hidden door that blended into the walls scrapped open.
    The comforting smell of the hospital wafted through my nose. I took in a deep breath and stepped broadly through the narrow hallways as patients in wheelchairs passed by. The doctors and nurses that spotted me gawked at the sight, I smugly grinned to myself, though I had no reason to.
    I stumbled backwards and my mind lapsed as I remembered why I had been in the morgue, I remembered almost dying. It was then I realized why all the people were gawking and staring at me, they all thought I had died. I shrunk up and tried to hide from the vicious stares that stalked my every step.
    I raced through the never-ending halls rushing in attempts to get to the exit, my only way to escape the brutal stares. My feet clomped harshly on the floors echoing when I took any and every step. I stamped into the emergency area of the hospital and stomped along heading to my sector to view first-hand death and stare it straight in the face.
    My breath was uneven and shook as I stepped up to the small table awaiting the next helpless person to be laid out in front of me. My eyes were glued to the ground and thoughts rushed in and out of my head, as if they were playing mind games. I shut my eyes and shook my head rapidly striving to get the thoughts to subside.
    I heard sirens blaring outside and stood upright, expecting nothing but the usual, otherwise known as the worst. Paramedics whizzed the stretcher through the door and counted “1, 2, and 3” evenly and together before heaving the body onto the table. A middle-age man was twitching and shaking, giving him the appearance of a fish out of water.
    I hooked up an IV to his arm, and pumped medications into his bloodstream. Connecting cords to his chest, I monitored his heart rate. It slowed, then sped, then skipped a beat. “Grand-mal seizure,” I muttered lightly. I situated the body on its left side and the spastic twitches slowly calmed and his eyes blinked open.
    I sighed with relief and grinned toward him. His eyes were bloodshot and cold, hatred filled them, and I sensed rage swarming around him. He jerked his arm up and in one swift motion, removed his IV that was connected to his venerable vein.
    The tiny hole began to ooze winces of blood and I screeched for assistance. Two doctors rushed in, one held in his hands restraining straps. The man flailed around on the bed but was no longer seizing. He flailed with rage, shouting murmured and not understandable words. One doctor grabbed his arms and tied them to the bed, the other his feet, and I reinserted the IV.
    His eyes welled up and his eyebrows scrunched together. The fingers on his left hand twitched back and forth, and his right hand balled in and out of a fist. Carefully I snuck around grabbing a needle and took some blood from him and gave him a medicine that would instantly put him to sleep; I did not want him to break free of the poor quality restraints.
    Quietly I sauntered out of the room and was met by several curious gazes. This time there was no confusion as to why everyone turned and stared, immediately I knew they were all shocked I was alive. I opened my mouth to speak, but instead a light choke came out sounding like a high-pitched chirp of a bird. People around me giggled at my tiny noise but I carried on, “I did not die yesterday, obviously.” I murmured. I didn’t want anyone to know about my night spent there, or the dead morgue worker, or me getting stuck and not knowing where to go until earlier tonight so I left it at that and walked away.
    As soon as I began to walk away, sirens blasted echoing through the hall again, I raced back to the room to meet the next patient. This patient looked mangled and broken, blood was on their head and arms, and then I spotted a deep chest wound. They wheezed for air and their eyes bugged as they stared up at me, looking for salvation.
    I grasped a tong-like utensil, I had figured they had been shot, and I began cautiously searching for the bullet pieces in the wound. I knew if the led set into the blood stream, it could instantly kill them or kill them in the near future. I plucked something out, a round ended shard of copper colored metal. I could see the patient cringe as I removed it and a small tear of pain slithered down their face.
    My eyes swelled with tears as their eyes glinted closed and they flat lined and I shook my head back and forth in a plea for a way out. I heard a devastated cry from behind me and glanced back to see a mother-like woman standing outside the room as she watched her teenage son be shocked. “CLEAR!” a doctor yelled and pressed two metallic plates to the boy’s chest and sent an electric shock through his body. He was still flat-lined. They rubbed the plates together and once more yelled “CLEAR!” then shocked the boy, with no positive results.
    I walked outside of the room and brought in the mother, then said in a devastated voice “Time of death 10:00PM, cause of death, blunt heart trauma from a bullet wound.” The teens mother shook under my arm as she cried with more pain in her shrieks then I had ever heard. She slid out from under my grasp and walked over to the bed where her dead son died. Quietly and softly she muttered “I always loved you, I should have been there to stop you, and I am sorry.” she said it in the most loving tone I had ever heard. I felt tears roll down my cheeks in slender streams and pain of seeing so many deaths stabbed at my heart like 1,000 knives. I plopped down into the room’s small plastic chair placing my head in my hands. I had no clue how long I stayed there but it seemed like forever. I thought over all of the things that had gone under in this hospital, thought of all the roles of each doctor, surgeon, nurse, and even interns. Then it dawned on me, I couldn’t be the only one here who carried this horrid pain of being in the front row seat for a show of death and suffering.
    I rose slowly from my uncomfortable seat and walked out into the hall, carefully examining each face that passed. A frown was on almost every face, and agony glazed their eyes. But when they all walked in to see a patient they masked it, with a smile and gleeful, cheery voice. I was inspired and walked up to the Mom of the recently deceased teen and adopted a hopeful but crushed tone. “I am extremely sorry for your loss; I promise you I did everything in my power to save your boy.” I said. To my amazement she grinned at me, and nodded. I felt her arms wrap around me in gesture of forgiving me and the others who tried their very best to save him.
    I spotted tear stains lying on my scrubs when she let go as I ambled away I couldn’t help but think about all the past patients who had died, and their families, the devastation that embedded them in sorrow and grief. This thought brought back a memory of my own.
    I flashed back slightly, I saw myself the day my Mom died, and I was a young girl only 11 years old. I remembered the pain that I felt, and then I recalled what that horrid event in my life paved the road I would travel on for the rest of my days. I wanted to prevent that anguish and raging agony from infecting anyone else, so I followed my heart and became a doctor. I became one of the people that would do everything in their power to save a life, for the benefit of others.
    I walked out of the hospital and into the cool night air, and taking in a deep breath, I threw away my worries and wonders of my career. I clutched the small rail in front of me, and broke the silence of the dim, starless night as I screamed letting all my agony and rage escape my body. Why did I choose this career? I never shall ask myself again, I shall carry the weight of the world on my shoulders and never falter from the burden.
    I saw the flashing lights pull up and my legs carried me back to where I belonged. A flat line floated across the screen of a black machine. “Time of death 11:30PM,” a voice said behind me “Cause of death, unknown.” I concluded.