Thursday, March 20, 2008

Things Could Creep over the Wall

It was just another possible Code 7 (dead) call. We responded to these types of calls regularly. It was in a high-rise condominium for the retired that dot the downtown landscape. We found a woman in her eighties lying half in and out of her kitchen. She was cold and stiff. She had been dead for some time. We cancelled the Engine and ambulance and requested the police and the coroner. My partner went downstairs to show the cops to the condo. I was left alone with the body.

As I sat there I could she what her last minutes had been like. She had vomited on the counter in the kitchen. You could see where she tried to clean it up. Then she had vomited again, this time she did not try to clean it up. People frequently vomit during a cardiac. She had staggered out of the kitchen and fallen. Her last moments were laid out so clearly. I could almost see her trying to clean it up. Scared. Not sure what was happening. Then feeling that crushing pain of a cardiac, staggering then falling. People don’t necessarily die instantly from a cardiac. There was a good chance she had laid there for some time by herself. Half conscious. In pain. Having trouble breathing. It was all there in front of me.

She had lain there for God knows how long with no way of summoning help. What were her thoughts during those last minutes? Did she think back on her life? Did she remember an old love? Or think of the regrets one has over what might have been? Or was her last minutes filled with the terror of dying alone and uncared for.

I was alone with body for some time. I squatted down and leaned against the wall. The security Guard who had let us into the condo had told us that she had lost her husband of some fifty years just two months prior. I had seen this happen a number of times. A wife or a husband would die and the other would soon follow, many times with no history of significant illness. They died from the weight of their own lives, without someone to share the load. It just was not worth it anymore. The loneliness and isolation of old age were some of the deadliest of diseases.

I sat there for some time with her waiting for the cops to show up. I did not look around the apartment. I did not want to know too many details of her life. Her death was sad enough for me. I hoped that she knew that there was someone who mourned her and was saddened by the loneliness of her death.

When the cops showed up they were laughing and talking loudly. It did not seem right, they were defiling the scene. But I had done the same thing countless times and would do so in the future. They had their walls up. I had just happened to let mine down that night for what ever the reason. I said something about how she had died alone. They looked at me a little strangely as I left. I guess I could not blame them. 

1 comment:

Lodo Grdzak said...

Makes me think of Grandma down in Florida. Think maybe I'll give her a call.