Breathe James, breathe

Sarah – in the trauma ward

We got to the trauma ward and they whisked her off into resuss and me off to do the paperwork at the front desk. The only time so far that I wanted to cry. When I got back to the trauma area I could hear her screaming. It was harrowing. I felt eerily calm. I didn’t however appreciate the policewoman liaison officer coming to tell me, in grave tones that she was here in the case the accident was serious or, you know, and she ducked her head but never took her eyes off my face, fatal.

I also didn’t appreciate the waiting room that had all these posters and pamphlets about organ donation everywhere. While you’re waiting to see if your child is going to live or die it’s a little like batting away the hovering vultures. It would be much easier to cope with if the vulture arrived – after.

They let me into resuss because I was so composed and was able to calm her down but it was at that point that my shoes, shoved on in such a panic what seemed a life time ago, started to haunt me. I’d sat, stood, walked in the rain for an hour, they were drenched and being my revolting work trainers that were four days away from being binned, they began to smell. How could this triviality, in the face of my daughters life, occupy my mind so much?

For each and every xray we’d have to duck behind xray screens and the smell would rise up and make me want vomit. They took endless xrays and Sarah was whimpering about how thirsty she was and it seemed such a tiny thing to ease in the midst of everything but I couldn’t give her anything in case she needed surgery. It made me feel ever more helpless. Eventually someone came over with a thimble sized bottle of water and let me drop the liquid between her dry lips. It was such a wonderful sensation to be able to help, as pathetically tiny help as it might have been.

She’d begged me not to call her dad. When I’d suggested it, as she lay there in the street, blinking rain out of her eyes, she’d panicked, yelling ‘No, no, no.’ I didn’t know why but it was well past the initial accident and it was time I started letting people know.

It’s hard knowing whether to do it, let alone how. A phone call? A text?  And who do you call? Surely, in some ways it’s best not to call anyone. Why instil the panic that you are going through into them? Would I want to know if the shoe was on the other foot? (DON’T even think of shoes) Yes, I would want to know. Why? What would I be able to do once I knew? Nothing. But somehow if I knew, the power of my thoughts could be channelled in their direction. My very knowledge might keep them alive because of the power of my thoughts. Egotistical? Immensely but human nonetheless. If I told everyone and they knew about, maybe their thoughts and prayers would be channelled in her direction, keeping her alive simply by thinking of her, holding her hear.

I opted for texts because that would be how I’d want to know. An instant to assimilate, to formulate questions and then the phone call. Like a coward I left the dad phone call to Joe. Anyway the dad’d already told me a couple of times he’d never wanted to hear from me again. Which as my excuse and I was sticking to it. Poor Lisa got the text but only half of it came through. She saw only that her sister had been involved in a serious accident and was in hospital.

She could barely speak for crying when she called.

Being in the trauma resuss centre brought another experience. I expected everyone to know what they were doing but they didn’t. I expected them to be gentle, they weren’t. I expected them to be professional which they were but I didn’t expect them to run out of oxygen and have to go hunt for another full bottle. I could see the horror on the mothers face in the room at the end who’s infant was having seizures. I could hear them shouting at James, who was dying in the bed next to us. ‘Breathe James, BREATHE!!

When I stepped out the trauma room to answer my phone, James’s wife, so calm and still, knowing her husband was dying was standing in the hallway like a shadow someone had left behind. His son, eyes filled with tears, sat in the waiting room looking hollow.

The revolting brats who’d got themselves so drunk that the emergency services had to be called lined the corridors on trolleys, being guarded by paramedics as they wretched dizzily into paper bowls. I couldn’t help feeling utter disgust that Sarah had had to lie in the rain for forty minutes because these silly twats needed to have alcohol before they thought they could have a good time. They should have to pay for the ambulances is my feeling.

Sarah’s dad arrived. I hadn’t seen him in years and I was shocked by how much he’d aged, even though I knew I certainly had. Within minutes he was looking at her paperwork and I saw every bone in his body stiffen when he saw her name change. I ignored the whole issue and gently eased the bear, this giant inflatable heating pad thing that wrapped around Sarah, a little tighter like a giant warm hug. I wished it could be me hugging her.


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