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Monday, April 16, 2007

Tender loving care

He does not speak or move. Sometimes, he blinks. Sometimes.

We speak to him everyday. There is no response.

We have placed stickers on his head to monitor electrical activity. The line on the monitor is flat. We yell loudly in his ear, play music and recordings of his wife's voice. The line remains flat. We tickle his chin, wiggle his eyelashes, blow air into his ear. Flat. We smack him sharply on the forehead, poke him with needles, apply pressure to his eye sockets. Still flat. Flat. Flat. Flat.

The consultants look at scans of his brain on the light boxes and talk in hushed tones. The brain looks like it is covered in big black polka dots - so many and widespread are the areas of infarcted (dead) tissue.

He is dying, we think. How long can a body last without a brain? All he does is breathe on his own and urinate and blink, sometimes.

The nurses have inserted a tube down his nose in his stomach. We try putting food and steroids down the tube - nothing happens. He does not improve. He does not deteriorate. He breathes. He urinates. He blinks, sometimes. The line on the monitor remains flat.

Eventually, we realise that feeding him through the tube is not doing anything at all - it is only making him constipated. He can only breathe and urinate, so we have to manually evacuate the bowels. It is not a pleasant job.

The doctors and nurses speak with the family. Our faces are serious and we shake our heads alot. The family cannot bear to see him like this, so silent, so still, a corpse that breathes. There is nothing we can do to make him better - they know this.

So, we stop putting food down. We give him nothing but water. Cool water, dripped slowly down the tube. He stops blinking. He is dying, we think. May it be soon.

But it isn't soon.

It takes 6 weeks.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, moving post. thanks

11:05 pm  

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