I’d heard the alarm once before, but then it was false alarm: someone had ‘just’ fainted. Last Wednesday however, in my night shift, I was to experience my first reanimation. And it was a child..
I was there from the beginning till the end. All the people in the crashroom were nervous. They’re all very well-trained and know what to do, but this time it was different. It was a child.
I was standing right next to the crashroom’s doors. When I peeked into the corridor, I saw the paramedics wheel him in. There was some sort of construction around him, automatically pumping his chest. When I saw the boy’s face, all blue, I already had the feeling that this wouldn’t be alright. But you still keep hoping. I had never experienced a reanimation before, and all those involved seemed so sure, they would know what to do and save this kid’s life, right?
They didn’t know what was wrong with him. They kept massaging his heart for about an hour, blood tests where run, rhythm was checked, he got infusions and packed cells, but his heart had stopped and wasn’t planning on getting going again. I saw the dismay in everyone’s eyes when they decided to stop; there was nothing they could do anymore.
I can’t describe how I felt during that long hour. I was pingponged between being a student trying to learn and a future doctor wanting to cure, and a person who was shocked and sad and appalled, and who remembered her young friend dying twelve years ago at the age of twelve because of a traffic accident. It must have gone a bit the same, people massaging his heart and trying to save his life, until it was clear that nothing could be done anymore.
Kids shouldn’t die. Everyone dies at some point, and some go a bit too early, but kids.. This was my first reanimation, and it was a child. I was just standing there, watching. There was nothing I could do (nor was allowed to). I guess the doctors themselves felt helpless too at some point. You desperately want to save the boy’s life, but no matter what you do, he’s not coming back.
It’s been a few days now, but all that has happened is piling up in the place where my emotions are kept, and it’s all coming out now. People (and animals) are dying all around me the past few weeks. Death is something that awaits us all, but cancer and heart attacks in childhood are not natural. It’s something that I will have to come to terms with, as a future doctor, but it’s hard to accept. I feel for people. I see people’s hearts break. I feel their powerlessness. I want to give them strength and hope. I want to be there for people. But there are times you can’t do anything anymore for someone. And I guess that’s the biggest fear of every doctor, their biggest regret, even though it’s not their fault. Sometimes you’re powerless. Last Wednesday was an example. I’m sure I will never forget this. No one in that crashroom will ever forget this.