rewritethepast: (resignation)
[personal profile] rewritethepast
My first death.

My first death.

I knew it would eventually happen, but I didn’t think it would be this soon. I'm not even in med proper, for goodness sake.

But I really couldn’t do anything; when we entered the ward area, they were already doing a cardiac massage and using an ambibag on the patient. My friend and I asked some nurses if the person was dying and they said that it was a normal routine thing. We were dubious (because the cardiac massage seemed so urgent), but we nodded and moved on.

After watching our nurse (whom we shadowed for the day) do nasal feeding (which I have discussed weeks ago), we went to someone’s hospital bed and helped in cleaning her forced wound. I say “forced” because the lady had a tube inserted in her body (and I mean that there was a large long tube that entered her side; the tube’s cross-sectional diameter was nearly the size of a 25 centavo coin) to help drain phlegm from her lungs. We used betadine, soaking some cotton balls in it and applying them to the area radially outward from the wound. Then we heard it.

I’ll never forget that sound in my whole life. I swear I’ll never forget it.

It was a desperate, disbelieving cry that tore at my heart and broke it into a million pieces. The four of us looked in the direction the sound was coming from and it was a woman clutching the body of the patient we saw earlier getting a cardiac massage who was screaming and crying and...

I remember the words the nurse we shadowed told us when we asked her if the patient was dead; they burrowed deep in my mind and my heart and echo in my ears as I now try and solve stoichiometry problems as practice for our Chem Departmental Exam this Saturday.

“Oo, normal na yan. Pag bago ka, iisipin mo na sana may nagawa ka pa para buhay pa siya. Pero mawawala rin iyan, nagiging normal nalang.”

When I shadowed a nurse in Ward 3, he told me that he would always remember the day a patient of his died (the first one assigned to him who died) – December 22, 2005 (well, either 22th or 24th – my memory is going bad again). He told us the same thing: the first patient will always be the one burned in one’s memory.

I keep seeing the scene play out in my mind. The woman screaming as she held the patient and the nurses going about their business like nothing life-changing had happened. Some of the patients looking on from their own beds and others just asleep or otherwise uninterested.

The four of us assigned to Ward 1, looking at it from a short distance and not being able to do anything at all.

I couldn’t have done anything. None of us could. The patient had so many diseases (we read the Clinical Abstract but couldn’t understand the doctor’s/nurse’s handwriting) and has had labored breathing for a long time already, a medical clerk told us. The patient had so many problems, some of them dating back to 1998. We just came when it was Code Red already; we were there when her life was extinguished like a finger does to a weakened flame.

The nurse told us that cardiac massage was a normal procedure and there was nothing to worry about, yet when I researched it using the internet later I found out it is used when the patient had already gone into cardiac arrest. Perhaps it is normal in this ward… I don’t know the death rate of patients in PGH. Maybe they didn’t want to scare us… we looked so young compared to the interns and medical clerks and everyone else surrounding us.

Eventually the woman stopped crying, and a nurse appeared to detach the stuff hooked up to the patient. White dividers were placed around the bed, and the nurse did her work like she’s done it a hundred times before. Maybe she has.

I didn’t even find out her name.

I don’t know why, but that seems important.

I hate this feeling of helplessness. I was nothing but a spectator to this death, which may have been normal to the veterans of PGH yet has changed the life of the woman crying because of her. I know I’m just a first year student. I know I couldn’t have done anything to help.

Yet I still hate myself for not being able to do anything.

I don’t ever want to feel this again. I don’t ever want to watch a life snuff out right before my eyes like this again, with the world having to quickly return to normal.

But I know I’ll feel this again, I’ll feel this a thousand times even as I become more learned and understand more the medical explanations behind each death, each life-threatening disease. I think my heart will still break with every death I witness, and my world will be thrust into darkness and I’ll struggle to break free so I can try again to make a better myself to try and prevent any more of this. The cycle will go on and on and on and eventually death will become familiar to me.

I hate this feeling.

But I’d rather feel it and hate it than feel nothing at all.

***

Would it had been better had I not seen it today?

No, it wouldn’t.

I would be happier, yes, but it’s better to see it now instead of pretending that the path I takes leads to many more situations where nothing more can be done, where lives just flutter away like a butterfly with wings.

I’ve been wearing a blindfold in Intarmed. Sometimes the blindfold slips down and I catch a glimpse of something yet it fixes itself and I can continue my life like nothing had happened.

I feel that right now the blindfold has been yanked off, my eyes seeing exactly what the world has in store for me.

I don’t think I want to find it and put it back over my eyes again.

***

This is for you, Nya :)

Well, and anyone who wants to see my jellyfish stuffed toy with my newly-acquired shrimp stuffed toy :)


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Hmmm. Can shrimps even smile? *donk*

***

Article taken from here.

Lots of interesting stories on that text file, but I’ll save the first one here.

Duck survives two days in a Fla. refrigerator after being shot; startles hunter's wife
By: Associated Press
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Neither gunfire nor two days in a refrigerator could slay this duck.

When the wife of the hunter who shot it opened the refrigerator door, the duck lifted its head, giving her a scare.
The man's wife "was going to check on the refrigerator because it hadn't been working right and when she opened the door, it looked up at her," said Laina Whipple, a receptionist at Killearn Animal Hospital. "She freaked out and told the daughter to take it to the hospital right then and there."

The 1-pound female ring-neck ended up at Goose Creek Wildlife Sanctuary, where it has been treated since Tuesday for wounds to its wing and leg.

Sanctuary veterinarian David Hale said it has about a 75 percent chance of survival, but probably won't ever be well enough to be released back into the wild.

He said the duck, which has a low metabolism, could have survived in a big enough refrigerator, especially if the door was opened and closed several times. And he said he understands how the hunter thought the duck was dead.

"This duck is very passive," Hale said. "It's not like trying to pick up a Muscovy at Lake Ella, where you put your life in your hands.

// I think I would have died if I were put in the same situation. I mean, getting shot and being subjected to really cold temperatures?

***

[Part 2 of 2]

Perhaps I’m too harsh on myself and my blockmates. Hundreds of students do these same experiments and dissections every year. Why should we suffer and they get to sleep soundly at night?

What gives us the right to end the lives of certain “lower” organisms just for the purpose of gathering information? And why do we play with them, subject them to stimuli that would be considered inhumane had the subjects been like us?

Imagine having a soldering rod held to your thigh, even if you wriggle or just whimper quietly and even if your skin turns red and eventually burns off. Think of having a hole in your skin, burn caused and pain inducing yet your captors just note something down in their lab manuals and they just move on to the next point of torture.

Imagine having something acidic spread on a part of your skin, and while the burning sensation overtakes your senses your captors smile and bring you to the sink and you feel cool water cascading down your body. You feel a false sense of security thinking that it’s all over but then they bring out the tissue soaked with acid again and they spread the acid on another part of your skin. Imagine your hind foot feebly trying to rub the acidic spot yet not really succeeding in alleviating the pain felt.

Imagine having a needle inserted in your brain and your brain getting destroyed (or at least parts of it, depending on the angle) because someone ordered others to do it to you.

I feel sorry for the frogs we have sacrificed for this experiment. I certainly would have reacted worse had my toe been pinched, my leg been shocked, parts of my body were wiped with acid, my leg was burned, my world turned upside down and rotating inside out and turned side to side.

Oh, but we didn’t just attack frogs; we added earthworms to our repertoire. We were much kinder to the earthworms overall, though I know some earthworms met a firey grave by light’s flame.

Imagine being placed on one’s back and trying to right one’s body yet not succeeding because something is missing in your body – you don’t understand it but your legs don’t spring outward and you can’t right yourself anymore. Imagine being thrown on the pan again and again, seeing so many eyes looking at you and waiting for you to try again and again and just wanting to curl up and sleep or die or just be a thousand miles away from that dissecting pan.

Imagine been placed in a pan and having the pan rotate counterclockwise and clockwise, making the world in your mind spin painfully while sustaining previous wounds. Imagine trying to escape the spinning world by trying to hop off the floor beneath you, yet not quite succeeding because of the speed the world spins and the weakness in your body from the previous tortures performed on you. Imagine getting to the edge of the pan and being thrown back by the force of the spin, and you keep hopping with hope in your mind yet not ever succeeding. Or even worse, imagine jumping off the pan and trying to fully escape the brightly lit room full of students with scalpels and pithing needles and getting picked up by a glove-covered hand and getting placed back on the pan and seeing the world spin around all over again.

And when the world stops spinning you breathe easy and lay down in the middle of the pan it then turns from side to side and you blindly rush towards the end of the pan but can’t succeed in jumping off because of the force of the turns and the student’s glove stopping you from escaping the newfound torture.

I’m not being melodramatic, sadly. We did all these with our frogs (oh the four frogs that suffered) after specially modifying some of them. One frog had part of its brain destroyed (its cerebral hemispheres and diencephalon), the other had its whole brain destroyed (this was our frog, so my ruminations are based mostly on this frog), and one frog was normal - he may have been the unluckiest of them all because he felt all the stimuli at full force. The luckiest frog must have been the totally pithed frog since its entire brain and spinal cord was destroyed; it at least couldn’t feel most of the painful stimuli we exposed it to.

Knowledge is important; we need this knowledge to better understand the human body. Eventually we’ll be able to apply all we know to our patients: hey, we learned about frog fossa and eventually found out that humans have fossa too. Eventually.

With each semester, new things will be offered to us that we will study and analyze as best we can being young adults thrown into a special fast-paced world of our own. (I believe the organisms are cats and sharks next semester.) We will continue with this even if the moral ramifications are damning because we aspire to a greater good, to help others live their lives the way they want to without sickness or pain.

If killing so many frogs will help us save human lives later on, then I accept this calling. There is no other way right now, and I only hope that our actions later on when we are qualified to hold other humans’ lives in our hands will help atone for the deaths we caused at this point in our lives.

***

Belated happy birthday Kel-san ^^

And advanced happy birthday to Anne, my fellow legal classmate who’s the only one older than me in the whole of Intarmed.

***

Yesterday I was able to cut open a frog’s stomach with Joan-san. We were supposed to check for rugae, which were defined as longitudinal folds in the stomach’s interior (Rubite, 1998).

It’s an oddly flesh-colored thing, a frog’s stomach; small yet oblong and surprisingly tough to cut. Yet we persevered and following the laboratory manual we had scalpel in hand and a good grip on the frog.

With the first incision, a clear colorless fluid started flowing out. This was unexpected yet explainable. However, when the cut was made longer, suspicious brown things were seen floating in the stomach and we dropped the scalpel and brought the frog, stomach and all, and the dissecting pan to the sink with the intent to just wash out its questionable content and send them on a long exciting journey through UP Manila’s plumbing system.

The general observations about our frog were made beforehand: the frog was male (it had testes and no ovary nor oviduct), its liver had three lobes and masqueraded as its lungs, it had a particularly large heart compared to the other frogs (with some corposa adiposa – fat - around it), the stomach was attached to the dorsal wall of the frog by a colorless membrane known as the mesogastrium. But eventually we would reach the part of the laboratory manual that instructed us to make a longitudinal cut in the stomach and wash out its contents.

When we reached the sink, we gingerly put the stomach under the faucet and watched some more suspicious brown things flow out with the clear liquid already inside. My head had shut down so all I could think was that I had seen that shade of brown before yet I couldn’t remember where. I suggested to Joan that I make the incision larger and I did, and more of the suspicious brown stuff floated down into the sink and down the drain. I got another implement and together Joan and I scooped out the remaining brown things mixed with oddly transparent thin things. One of them fell on the frog’s leg and I looked at it closely.

It was a fly’s wing.

When the stomach was cleaned, we went back to our table and looked in the stomach for the longitudinal folds that we had to find. Squinting, there were faint folds inside. Later we would find out that the stomach has prominent rugae when it is empty, which would explain why we couldn’t see much (the frog ate a lot before it died).

Someone was able to extract the frog’s urinary bladder and it was a transparent piece of membrane that was empty. This was logical since the frog in question urinated on the dissecting pan while it was being pithed (brain and spinal cord was being destroyed) and skinned.

We cut the frog’s heart lastly, and we really couldn’t find much on it. It was certainly cone-shaped and hard to extract but when we opened it we saw nothing remarkable other than a thin transparent membrane-like wall separating the two sides of the heart from each other. It must have been the interauricular septum.

I saw my classmate then, who was observing his groupmates dismember their frog. I then looked at the dissecting pan containing the frog and one of the brown suspicious things and I realized what made its color look so familiar.

“Ivan,” I asked innocently, “do frogs eat cockroaches?”

He looked at me and contemplated my seemingly odd and irrelevant question. “Yung mga malalaki, oo.” Our other classmate looked up from the frog he was dismembering and looked at me. “Bakit?”

I pointed to the pan. “When we opened the frog’s stomach we found this” and I gestured to what looked exactly like a cockroach’s exoskeleton/wing.

They nodded gravely.

Frogs aren’t so bad after all if they can kill insects that can live for days on the glue on the back of a postage stamp. :)

***

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Yay strawberries!!!!

Infinitely more healthy than what I normally eat (cup noodles, fastfood offerings and potato chips)!

***

Sometimes I wish you’d read my blog.

But then I think that it’s better that you don’t (to my knowledge) because you might think I’m obsessed with you and what you think of me.

I’m not.

I just wonder what you’ll think of me, comparing the me expressed with words and the me that interacts with you and making a conclusion as to who I really am.

I wonder which one you’d prefer.

***

One week to go before it's the day again, and I wonder if I'll forget about it with the numerous requirements that threaten to engulf me.

Yet I don't think I can forget, because it may not be tattooed on my skin yet it's made an indelible mark on my soul.





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