ICU9 mins 447 9 mins 447
The pain was excruciating and unbearable. He writhed in agony. Too much of blood had gushed out from many parts of his body. Breathing had become difficult. Opening the eyelids was an impossible task. He was laid down on the operation table with the doctors working on him trying furiously to save his life. Frantically they pumped his chest to make sure that the heart didn’t give up. Blood continually dripped from a container to the catheter that made its way into his body through an opening in his right arm.
It wasn’t long before the doctors realized it was no use. The patient had lost enormous quantity of blood. The heart was slowing down ever so gradually and continually. The patient was losing consciousness. He was being relieved of his pain. He was given pain-killers and sleeping tablets, but the doctors knew his losing consciousness was not the effect of those drugs. He was about to go into a state of comatose, an obvious oblivion before the eternity of Death would welcome him with open arms.
There was nothing else they could do. They had done everything they could think of. With just a nod amongst themselves, the doctors conveyed to the senior residents what had to be done. Slowly, reluctantly, with sagging shoulders, like batsmen who get out without scoring a single run, the doctors filed away from the Operation Theatre. It was a bitter fact that although they could perform miracles with people’s lives, they still weren’t God.
The patient was shifted from the OT to the ICU and was put on a ventilator, while the blood continued to drip slowly into his body. His heart beat was continuously monitored by the ECG, but the graph was going down. Glucose was also provided to him. It was all they could do for this patient. The senior nurse-in-charge lightly patted the arms of the patient, shook her head, as if muttering to herself, “You just can't fight the Fates”, and passed on, letting the machines take care of him.
Within the next hour, with the identification established, phone calls were made, the news was communicated, and there was a gush of people to the hospital, all wanting to enter the ICU. Since there was not much hope in the victim surviving the night, what with the failing graph of the ECG, the doctors allowed one at a time inside the ICU to pay their last visit. It was now, the residents told them, just a matter of few hours…
* * *
The accident had occurred within the last hour, although it seemed hours before. The patient was on a vehicle and was hit by another vehicle coming from the right in one of the lesser-known junctions of the city, unmanned by the signals. It was none of the two drivers’ mistake, but just a mutual misunderstanding and a wrong analytical call by both the parties. The speed, too, was well under control, but the disaster seemed to be of very high magnitude. Neither of the two could curse the other for the mishap, because, both had incurred serious head injuries.
The passersby had taken responsibility and soon, the ambulance was on its way. On the way to the hospital, one of the victims succumbed to the injuries, while the other just managed to hold on. But after the emergency operation, and several other medications given, the other victim too seemed to be out of the doctors’ reach.
* * *
He tried to comprehend the happenings, meticulously, one by one. His memory had become hazy since he last felt the crunch of the other vehicle hit him. He had fallen hard on the ground. There were distinctive snaps of many bones in his body. Soon, his hands were covered with blood. His vision became groggy and everything seemed to be in red. The wind was completely knocked out of him, and breathing had become tough. But, incredibly, he hadn’t felt any pain. But that was then.
He had realized he was a victim of the major accident and slowly allowed himself to lie spread-eagled on the road, while the onlookers crowded around him. The excruciating pain then came over him and made him cry out hoarsely, but no voice came out. The ambulance was a flash of memory. Then the sedations took over him. Later, he could visualize more than see the doctors fighting a lost battle. He had to smile a light resigned smile to himself. So, then, this was Death. You experience it only once in life. You might as well enjoy it. He again drifted back to oblivion.
He was brought back to life by an occasional human touch. He didn’t have the power to see, but he could hear at times the soft weep of different adults, one at a time. There was also a faint beep-beep of the ECG, and he realized he was in the ICU, although he wasn’t aware when he was brought there from the OT. Strange, that he was the cause for the people crying. He didn’t want others to cry for him. True, the love and care made us all sentimentally attached, but he didn’t want others to be sad because of his departure. After all, everyone has got to die, some day or the other.
He wanted to think of many people in his life for one last time, but he had lost all control over his mind and the mind drifted away, powered both by sedatives and exhaustion, like a huge crest of a high-tide wave. The last thing he could realize was the full meaning of the phrase ‘The Jaws of Death’…
* * *
She entered the ICU, and took one look at him. Her heart fell. Her legs felt weak and she felt groundless. Her mouth became dry, the tears welled up in her eyes and she held the entrance door for support and strength. The sight of him in bandages, ventilator, dripping blood, glucose, ECG and the huge gashes on his face were too much for her to take in. She had prepared herself as much as possible, but the harsh reality of it all hit her like never before.
Yet, miraculously, she got a quick hold of herself. She controlled the tears, gained the strength back and her usual composure, brushed herself lightly, put on a light smile to her lips and went near him comfortably, as if she had just entered her best friend’s house. She took the chair beside his bed, looked at his smiling face imploringly, and as carefully as possible, took his hand in both of hers and let it rest lightly on the bed.
For all the time in the world, she just looked at him, smiled at him and held his hand and allowed the warmth of her hand to be felt by him, as if to assure him that, “Everything is going to be alright now that I am here.” She felt comfortably close to him and the sight of the gashes, blood and ventilator were no longer threatening. She continued to stare at him and became absolutely ignorant of the continuous hustle-bustle of the nurses, doctors around her. For all that she cared, the only people in the entire universe were the patient on the bed and herself.
For her, there was peace all around, a soothing tranquility that gave an enormous peace of mind. It was as if she was meditating with her eyes open. She did not allow herself to think what the resident doctor has said that these were his last few hours. All she felt was limitless and unconditional care towards him and she knew that he needed her very badly. If she herself was the patient, she knew, he would have done exactly the same thing what she was doing now. She wasn’t even thinking of the time spent with him earlier in her life, nor the future life without him, but allowed the massive calm of the ocean envelop her. And she experienced in this, an eternal bliss. And that made her continue smiling…
* * *
Something peculiar was happening to him that he wasn’t particularly aware of. For all he knew, he was asleep, rather unconscious – call it whatever – and now, he was brought back to life. His brain was processing thoughts, recalling events and he suddenly remembered himself thinking last something on the lines of the Jaws of Death. But amidst this all, he could feel a pleasant sense of life all around, like bright, colourful flowers everywhere. Can a sedative have such an effect? The pain in the body could still be felt, but the pleasantness in the mind had won over the pain. Strangely, there was an urge of utter joy and content. And then he felt the hand of someone soft carefully caressing his own hand. He instantly knew who it was, and his joy knew no bounds. It was only she who had the power to induce such joyous feelings in him.
The hand had all the effect of bringing life back to him. It was pure. It was innocent, charming, simple, nice and plainly good. In effect, he realized with a shock, unbelievably so, it seemed as if the hand was infusing life back onto him. When she was doing so much for him, the least he could do was try.
With an extreme effort, he opened his eyelids carefully – which seemed as heavy as logs – and looked at her. He had half-expected this, and indeed, it was true. She was smiling at him, as if he had just gotten up from a deep sleep. In spite of the smile, her face was covered completely with tears, probably unknown to herself, and seeing him open his eyes, she could no longer control herself. She burst out crying and smiling at the same time and this sudden action brought some resident doctors to scramble up to see if the patient had at last breathed his last.
What they saw instead astonished them beyond comprehension. Looking incredulously at the blinking man on the bed, and the now-almost-normal graph on the ECG accompanied by the steady rhythm of the beep-beep, the resident doctors ran to the senior doctors with their mouths open to inform of a miracle that had just occurred.
Still unaware of the happenings around, she continued to hold onto his hand, and stare at him, as if to say, “I will never let you leave me.” He would have tried to whisper “Thanks”, but the two of them had long ago agreed not to use such formalities to one another. He looked back at her with as much of the same intensity as he could muster and managed a feeble smile of gratitude.
The ICU, for the two of them, was transformed from the doorstep of Death to a beautiful garden of joy and content and a place full of bright coloured flowers all around…