Friday, February 15, 2008

Blatant Irony

My 24-hour stint at the hospital was coming to a close. It was 6:15 AM and I had just started eating my breakfast. The nurse, very calmly, tells me that there was a patient. From inside the room, I could hear very agitated voices. I went to the small ER and found two elderly ladies, one of whom was bearing a child. The child was a few months old baby boy. He looked very pale, almost blue. He was limp and was unresponsive. I could hear no heart nor breath sounds. I asked for oxygen and an ECG and seriously contemplated starting a code (CPR). The problem was I wasn't trained in pediatric cardiac arrest cases (Pediatric Advanced Life Support, or PALS) and I knew for certain that the baby was beyond salvaging. He was dead. The ECG confirmed it for me -- it was in asystole (a flat line).

I started interviewing the lady who brought the child in. She was the grandmother. Her story was very unclear and I guess she was still dazed from the urgency of the situation. The baby was found on the floor, so he probably fell there sometime during the early morning. He was already limp, unresponsive, and not breathing when his father found him. The dad, who I later found out was still quite young, rushed to his mother's house, a few houses away from where they were currently at. The grandmother was roused from sleep and was frantically asked to bring the child to the hospital. I don't know how they came to the hospital, whether they walked or rode a tricycle. About 30 minutes have probably passed from the time the child was found to the time he was brought to the hospital.

As I was writing the patient note, I saw that the baby was born on 12-15-2007. He lived a full two months.

At this time, a young couple came into the hospital. The lady was as pregnant as pregnant can be and she was carefully led by her dutiful husband to a seat. She came in for a consult because painful contractions began early that morning. I examined her and found her cervix to be dilated a little. She had started her labor and would soon deliver her first baby. Inevitably, the couple saw the dead boy on the ER bed next to theirs and would probably hear that baby's story from someone in the hospital. I hope they never get to experience what the dead boy's parents are about to go through: the burial of their young child. I have never seen such blatant and cruel irony. No parent should have to bury their child.

***
Theoden: Simbelmyne. Ever has it grown on the tombs of my forebears. Now it shall cover the grave of my son. Alas, that these evil days should be mine. The young perish and the old linger. That I should live to see that last days of my house.

Gandalf: Théodred's death was not of your making.

Theoden: No parent should have to bury their child.

Gandalf: He was strong in life. His spirit will find the way to the halls of your fathers.

-Gandalf and Theoden, from the film The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers-

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