29/03/2016

I saw a dead person today.

I walked up to her and said: Yvette*? Hello?

Her eyes were open, tubes strapped to her mouth, monitors in her head, on her fingers and on her chest

The monitor above her bed started beeping

She remained still

“What did you do?!” shouted the nurse

Not a flicker or a flinch

“Nothing” , “I just wanted to examine her GCS”

“You won’t get anything out of her” said the nurse, “she’s already on her way out”. She made a wavy gesture with her hand directed at the ceiling.

“On her way out?” She can’t be discharged, I thought, not like this.

“She’s gone” said the nurse as she scurried around checking folders and pressing buttons on monitors.

She muted Yvette’s* monitor, “look” she paused, and pointed at the straight line on the screen, “asystole”. “You’ll get more out of Mr Geldunhuys* across the room”.

I walked up to Mr Geldunhuys* hesitantly and said: Hello? Mr Geldunhys?… I’m a medical student.

His eyes were open, tubes strapped to his mouth, monitors on his head, fingers and chest

He blinked — the nurse was right.

*not their real names

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