flatline

Room 410 ©
Valerie Clark

I was five minutes late and heard a great commotion coming from Room 410. I started to run faster down the hallway and upon entering I was unable to see him.
I could hear his breathy words gasping, “I can’t breathe… I can’t breathe!”
Desperation and struggle; I had never heard nor even known such things could exist inside of him before now, until this very moment, the revelation that he was indeed only human, not immortal struck me. Four people were surrounding him and the gurney was rocking furiously on the hard hospital floor tiles. My heart was jolting into palpitations and my blood rushing quickly to the top of my head. Anger embracing me and a rage released from inside the depth of my soul.
I was yelling to the workers, “LET HIM GO NOW! HE NEEDS A CHEST X-RAY! NOW! NOW!” But they were not listening to my shouts.

I saw a tech in blue smirk at another one as they tugged harder on the cloth restraints tying him tighter to the ICU bed railing. The intent was to make him remain flat because he was trying to sit upright. He needed to sit up, as fluid had settled into his lungs, making breathing difficult. Today was the nineteenth day of his unexpected admission. Lying down for so long without being able to move around had taken its toll. He really was unable to breathe and no one would listen to the patient; they did not care…the caregivers did not care.

I knew pneumonia had crept in and I also knew a chest X-RAY would not help, not really. I was a stranger at this hospital. My two letters behind my name meant nothing to anyone here, or the words I speaking, except to one person. My words seemed to only matter to him but this was unacceptable to me.

Dashing out of the room just as he gave one more thrashing movement before collapsing, I was demanding to see the floor charge nurse, however, his surgeon appeared. Regaining my composure, I calmly began to explain what I had just witnessed in Room 410, with his patient. I was stating that if “Surgeon” did not remove the restraints within the next few moments then I would. I was making it very clear so that he would understand the seriousness and truth behind my words. He did and the immediately the restraints were removed within minutes.

I sat closely next to him, first looking at the swollen and marked impressions left by the unnecessary bindings. Glancing up, we were eye to eye as usual. I was trying to smile calmly whenever he said softly, “Thank you, Heart.”

My Daddy called me, “Heart” and I loved that and I loved him. His heart stopped that day, a few hours later at 4:37pm after he went into cardiac arrest due to pulmonary complications.
I too, stopped.

 

In loving memory of my Dad.

January 17,1957- December 31, 2008