Monday, June 29, 2009

On Perspective

I do have a serious (ish) point to make; but the heat is making me sluggish. Everything seems a bit harder when it's this close and muggy. Even my coffee mocked me this morning - the milk looked good, smelled ok (ish) and, on adding to coffee, seemed good.

Sadly, it tasted like shit.

So, a few days ago, you will have noticed - unless you live in a cave, or are deaf dumb and blind, and spend all your days playing pinball - someone famous died.

Well, two, really. Farrah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson both shuffled off this mortal coil. On La Belle Fille's birthday, as it happens, but I'm sure that was a coincidence. Farrah's death slipped by me un-noticed. Not entirely surprising, as her people have no real reason to keep me in the loop.

Jacko, on the other hand, was a different matter altogether.

I was working lates. Unintentionally late, as it went. I thought I was on till two, so turned up at 6, only to discover I was on till midnight, and should have been on at 4. Still... I think if I hadn't been working, I'd have missed it. But nowadays the concept of a 'scoop' news story is obsolete. I still recall films where reporters at a Courtroom, for example, all rush to the bank of PayPhones (remember them?) to try and be the first to get the story back.

Now - the story, whatever it may be, is flashed across the globe at the speed of light. The internet has made us all neighbours.

But there's still an odd feeling when something is breaking. The news began as a sort of ripple, word of mouth. People whispering, asking 'Have you heard...?' (which sounded like it ought to be a joke, and soon was...)

I was in resus, with a patient who had collapsed at home. Fitted, stopped breathing, tubed without drugs, still not responding an hour later, BP steadily climbing...

I didn't need the CT to tell me what had happened, but we have to get it anyway; it showed, as I knew it would an huge, catastrophic mass of blood in his head. Unsalvageable, unsurviveable... there's no way to put it that doesn't sound awful.

What follows, what I hate doing, is the telling of the family. Then what's worse is pulling the tube. Until that moment, he looks as if the vestiges of life are still there. His chest is rising and falling, in time with the wheezing of the vent, and he's warm.

But I have to pull the tube, and I know he won't breath by himself. I only hope he won't choke as I do it, only hope that his reflexes have gone, to save him the final indignity.

His family gather around him as his heart beats his last.

Later, after the paperwork is done, and after I have seen confirmation that Michael Jackson has gone just as suddenly, the family seek me out to thank me; I look from them, who seem shocked and unsure of what they'll do next, as they walk slowly out into the night, to the pictures on the computer screen, of hundreds of folks outside UCLA (or wherever it was).

I'm sure there's a meaningful comparison here, if only I could find it.


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