For the world, it may be just any other day. But for you? For you it’s another battle, another loss.
You watch, helpless, as the life you tried so hard to protect slips from between your fingers. The uncertainty of death which makes life so beautiful and precious has always been nature’s cruel joke on you. The monitors beep lifelessly, a straight line of death cruising the screen as winding thoughts take over your mind. Was it my fault? Could I have done more? Why didn’t I do more? Why wasn’t I able to save them?
There’s no time. There’s no time to reflect. There’s no time to understand what might have gone wrong, to process the loss, to truly accept the death. You have to tell the family.
You have to tell the people who called you a saviour, a hero, the one who will make it all right. You have to tell them that you’re sorry, that you tried your best but you were not able to save them. You have the search through the mess in your mind for the most appropriate words. You have to be open and honest, clinically accurate and emotionally considerate. You have to care for their feelings, but careful, you cannot show your own.
You have to allow time. Sometimes you have to stand in the deafening silence as they come to terms with the loss. Sometimes you have to answer their questions, clear any accusations, politely repeat the same words again and again and again. You have to protect your team, your colleagues, the ones who fought this battle by you, you have to let it be known that they tried everything that was in their power.
One day, the police are here, legal procedures they say. Another day the hospital authorities are here – post mortem necessities, organ donation requests. You have to talk to the family they say. The family isn’t able to handle the news well. Heal me too, they say. You have to guide them to approach the right person for help and watch as they walk away while you stand, still hurting from the hit on the already wounded conscience.
You have to, you have to, you have to. So many things you have to do.
Then you finally sit. Fists tightened, breaths deep, and heart pounding away in your chest. You go over everything. Every decision, every choice and every step. You begin to process it. You finally stop doing what you have to do, and start doing what you need to – heal.
But the doors open and the pager beeps again. The next life is waiting for you, another family is looking at you as their saviour, so you run. You push those thoughts to that dark corner of your mind where you stash every other story, where the weight of those unvisited tales just gets heavier and heavier. You’ll revisit it, some other day, some other time and till then you can bear it. You have to. Again.
For you are the ‘hero’, a hero who loses every day.
But why can’t they see the irony? Why can’t you see?
The wolverine of the wards is just another human at the end of the day. Why is the saviour not able to save themselves?
For you too, has it become just any other day?