Tough times, I wonder. Or should I say toughest times? I run through the packed corridors of the second floor hoping that the ventilator doesn’t hit any of the patients on the ground. The heat brooding inside my coveralls is extracting the tiniest drop of energy within me. Each step somehow feels more painful than stepping on shards of glass. But I’ll not give up. This is my choice, and this is what my choice demands of me.
I enter room 902. There is man on the patient bed, wrinkled like a raisin and gasping for breath. He was shaking like he could see death looming right behind me. I had to calm him down.
‘Sir, everything is going to be alright. How are you feeling?’
‘Breath…. I can’t…. it hurts everywhere…’
‘Sir, everything will be fine. This machine right here will help you breathe. I just want you to calm down so I can help you with this.’
A shift in the fear I see in his eyes. Hope. That’s right, everything is going to be fine with this man. The other male nurse from 5th floor runs into the room. I don’t remember his name.
‘Help me with the ventilation. Get the oxygen mask and sleep medication ready too in case of unbearable pain.’
We carefully set up the ventilation and wait to see if his condition stabilizes. I turn back to look the male nurse. His shift must’ve been longer than mine. The tired eyes were all too visible even with the googles. His feet were stuck to the ground and he looked like the dummy that wore the coverall before him.
‘We have to attend the other patients. Let’s go.’ He nods.
The door opens suddenly and came in the physician in charge with a girl on another bed; around 12 years old, still body and flowing hair.
‘Ah. It’s good that you are here. Attend to this patient immediately. Top priority.’
‘Sir, what about the ventilator?’
‘Use that one.’ All our eyes dart to where the doctor looks. The ventilator connected to the old man
‘She’s 12. He is 73. He wouldn’t have a long time even after all of this. Do what I say.’ He walks out.
Everything happened too quick. However, I think it is going to be etched in my soul. The gaze of defeat and resignation in the man’s eyes. It was not fear anymore. The ventilator was removed, and the male nurse started working on connecting it to the girl. I again approached the man with sleep medication, a painless death; I could give that to him. He laid there limp, only his head slowly turning to look at the girl. As his eyes shut, I realized it wasn’t death that he saw behind me but me as death.