Ever since my first shift at Internal Medicine rotation, I’ve accustomed myself to the fact that people die all the time; Internal Medicine wards are the terminal station for the chronically ill, and I came to believe that Death lives in there. But I have always dreaded the moment I would witness someone die. It happened today.
In an Egyptian governmental hospital, It’s always the same scenario; relatives insanely knock your door asking you to come see the patient because he had “fallen silent”. He was an 80-something man with multi-system issues, and his pulse had gone unpalpable. My heart sank. My shift had almost ended, and I was there, on my own. He was on a wheelchair. Some worker should move him to a trolly so we rush him to the ER while I start CPR, but nobody was there. There’s only one working elevator at the floor that serves doctors, patients, and their relatives, so when arrests happen, you have to run to that one elevator and knock heavily shouting “arrest!” in order to get it as fast as possible. Meanwhile, the patient was still on the wheelchair, pulseless.
He got to the ER on the wheelchair, and CPR was started only when we moved him to a bed at the arrest room. I was afraid perhaps he would die because I was too slow, but then after all, I was on my own, and I did all it took to rush him there. Things get easier at the ER, at least there are residents with more experience than a lonely house officer.
“It’s too late, let him die in peace.” The resident said after multiple cycles of resuscitation.I froze.
“Wait, there’s pulse, he came back!” Said the nurse. He did come back, and I wanted to hug him for that. I think I was the only one in the room who was very thankful. To be honest, a part of me didn’t want him to die in my shift.
Then he had gone once again, we resuscitated. He came back again, but then he had gone for good.
And there I stood, facing a dead man in a room full of people who bore no emotion for him. I don’t know why I held his hand for a moment, but I kept staring at him, a part of me hoping for another comeback, and the other part relieved it was finally over. An eerie feeling. But then, this is life, and death happens.