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Human fragility

February 9, 2011
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Two large fans blow warm air with an underlying smell of human faeces and sickness around the ward while a bored janitor sweeps repeatedly from one end of the corridor to the other.  The constant bleep of medical monitoring equipment forms the overly common signature chorus of the ward, while the constant shifting of files and the murmurs of medical staff and patients form the verses which at times change tones and volume.

There are four bays in the ward, all consisting of six beds.  The second bay is a male bay, all six beds are occupied. Amongst the patients are a 28-year-old with alcohol-induced liver failure, and an elderly Parkinson’s patient with suspected pancreatic cancer who is happily drinking his hot chocolate oblivious to his somewhat dire prognosis. 

In the first bed on the left, is a 92-year-old lying on his death bed.  His oxygen mask is strapped to his face, turned up to full pressure.  There is a heart monitor attached.  Exactly why it is being used, I do not know; it won’t help him, at best it will only flat line and indicate his transmission into another world.  There are two chairs around his bed for visitors, but he is alone.  His eyes are wide open and he looks around the bay frantically as if searching for something or somebody that will alleviate his suffering.  Involuntary painful moans escape his lips from time to time and he closes his eyes and grimaces at intervals.

I watch him quietly, unable to help.  This is reality, what is before me is a scene of true human pain, suffering, and helplessness.  What makes it worse is the fact that the elderly man is dying alone.  His body is giving up a battle that was started at conception, his organs will slowly fail and his heart will stop, his brain will be disconnected from neural activity and his world will end.  Painfully.  This is the fragility of the human body, and the fragility of human life.

I stand by him and wonder whether his life has been full, was he happy?  Did he have the opportunity to follow his dreams?  From the look in his eyes it seems to me that his regrets span the length of the ocean.  Life is what you make it.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 11, 2011 2:48 am

    Being healthy – I often find myself postponing the necessary and taking my “reasonable” conditions for granted. But true, life is what I make of it. I’d better make sure that I can go out with a smile of content on my then, hopefully well-aged, face. Sad though, I know that circumstances and conditions also have their fair share in what a person becomes. Who knows the horrors bestowed on his poor soul – who knows?!?

    • February 11, 2011 6:41 pm

      I think seeing somebody in a situation similar to the patient I mentioned in the post kind of snaps you back to reality because the majority of the time most people take life for granted, I know I did =)

      • February 13, 2011 12:13 pm

        true… I do too… just the simple fact that we woke up allright and well is something special… something worth appreciating? But the rush of life has us worrying about the other “seemingly” bigger issues… luxury, social networking, career opportunities and such… but quite frankly all of those luxuries are worthless without the “little”, often overlooked and seemingly insignificant.

  2. bookaholic46 permalink
    February 12, 2011 11:57 pm

    we must make sure that we take care of ourselves. our nagging parents are doing good job, if we only follow it.

  3. v v v v v permalink
    November 16, 2011 3:59 am

    old is a pain. i think.

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