November 27, 2008


Filed under: Belles lettres — theinkhorn @ 4:29 pm

Its 2 in the morning and I’m standing in front of my patient’s bed in room 26. The old man has acute respiratory distress syndrome and his lungs are slowly filling up with fluid. The antibiotics are not working and he will be dead in a matter of days.

“So in short, Mr Stevens, there’s nothing more we can do.”

“Give me morphine.”

I take my eyes off his chart and fix them upon his shrivelled, distorted excuse for a face. He doesn’t look like a drug addict, neither does he seem to be in too much pain.

“I know how this is going to feel like. Its torture. Its agony. I won’t be able to breathe. And I’ll crap myself the minute my lungs give way. If you’re a good doctor and a good human being, you’ll end my misery right now.”

He looks at me with tears in his eyes. His breathing is getting heavier and heavier by the second. My brain processes his words and i realize what he’s asking for. Resisting the urge to giggle, I nod my head.

“I understand.”

I walk out of the room to get the equipment required. When i step back in, his eyes light up and a smile appears on his wrinkled face.

“Thank you.. so much.”

I nod, then proceed to plunge the hypodermic needle into his IV tube. I push down on the plunger until the syringe is empty, then pull it out and stick it back into my coat pocket. I pull up a chair and sit beside him.

“Human beings are very interesting creatures Mr Stevens. For most of our lives we wear masks to hide who we really are. Its not because we’re ashamed, its because we know that in our natural element, we are unattractive, lying, conniving, dirty, evil things, and the only way to experience social interaction is for us to put on that mask and play pretend. That’s why when someone decides to remove his mask and reveal himself as the coward he is…..”

He looks at me, eyebrow raised, eyes still teary. He’s confused, and why shouldn’t he be.

“Me, i don’t like games. One game i especially abhor is pretend. That’s why in about two minutes, the potassium chloride that’s coursing through your veins right now will give you a heart attack. You will feel chest pains and you won’t be able to breathe much. But here’s the best part. As soon as your left ventricle fails, your lungs will begin to accumulate fluid. Since you already have ARDS and your lungs are half full, or empty, depending on your outlook of life, they will be filled faster than you can say ‘lethal injection’. I’m ending your misery, but with alot more misery.”

I watch as he takes in the information and lets it sink in. His eyes speak his words for him. His emotions, they all play out on that wrinkled piece of skin. Then, without warning, he opens his eyes and mouth wide. He struggles to breath and begins thrashing about. His expression is one of absolute terror. Fluid is draining into his lungs and he is slowly but surely drowning to death. I get up, adjust my coat and walk to the door. Just before i walk out the door, i turn around and look at him. He’s still thrashing about like a goldfish on land.

“Enjoy your agony Mr Stevens.”

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