Sunday, 4 August 2013

My sister and I had a long talk about who should be in the hospital room when my Father died.
I could not bear the idea that he'd be alone.  For a week, he slipped in and out of the 'edge', and we couldn't stay by his bedside 24/7. So we started taking it in turns, and I stayed as long as I could at night. 
Given his status (senior, highly respected surgeon), we were allowed special dispensation to stay in the ICU with him at night as long as we were super quiet. I sat with my cheek against his hand, drifting in and out of sleep, for as long as I could every night. People came in and out, to change his position, to administer a drug, to check his vitals. 

One night, he seemed to be coming 'to', and fighting the ventilator. 
If you haven't seen a loved one coming to and fighting his ventilator, I pray you never have to. 
If you have, I pray you can forget the sight. I pray that it is possible to forget it.  

A nurse came in and on the instruction of the presiding doctor, gave my Father a syringefull of morphine.  I sort of intuited that when you give a syringefull of morphine to someone in that condition, it is possible that their heartrate will drop, and maybe not recover.  I maintained eye contact with the nurse the whole time, and he maintained eye contact with me.  I would have given away everything that is mine to give, in that moment when my Father was struggling. Anything to make him either come to completely, or sink back quickly, anything to stop his distress.
In the event, all I had to give, I gave back with my eyes. Before the syringe was half empty, the struggling stopped and everything was calm again. Pulse 60, BP normal, oxgen saturation almost normal. 

As the nurse left the room, he squeezed my shoulder.  The room was darkened, and his face was dark, but if I see him again, in a crowd of thousands, a thousand years later, I will remember him. 

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