The Death of a Man
Being an orderly at Scottsdale Memorial Hospital was a fun job that
required a strong heart. The hospital was a great place for me to experience
the beauty of life and the unwanted death of humans. Throughout my year of
employment at the Community Hospital, I was able to enjoy my work by interacting
with many kinds of interesting patients. Without the hospital, I would have
never imagined to be carrying on conversations with most of these people.
Aiding curses required many long exhilarating hours of work each day, but I
loved experiencing the daily recovery of patients, in which I was able to be
The night of August sixth became a different story. Just as my shift was
coming to a normal close, a nurse’s call light from one of the patient’s rooms
had illuminated. On one of my many repetitive walks down from the station to a
patient’s room, I had nothing else on my mind except for my evening plans with
friends. I was extremely happy that this would surely be the last call light I
would be answering that shift. As I entered the room, a crying relative came
yelling at me. “He is going, something happened, do something, do something
now!”, demanded the distressed lady standing right at the bed side. I had seen
this man before, although I had never spoken to him. I had know idea that he
was not in a stable health.
“All right, all right,” I replied in frustration, not knowing exactly what
to do first. I looked at the 84 year old overweight male patient. He appeared
very pale with his brown colored eyes half shut looking desperately at me for
some sort of help. My mind was becoming blank, as I could not believe what I
was about to experience. In training we were told this could happen from time,
to time, but I never thought with me. We were also told how to deal with the
death of a patient, although I never thought I would be a part in this type of
situation. Regardless, I could not think straight. I could not move as I
started to panic. I looked around before I noticed that I was the only help
available. I became scared. I then all at once, ran out of the room, screaming
for help to any one that would be able to hear me, “Code Blue, Code Blue, room
219 now!” Running back into the room, I stepped behind the bed and pulled the
call light on again. The high pitched sound was louder than ever. I stood
there waiting, it seemed forever not knowing exactly what I should be doing.
The young lady relative was looking at me expecting that I would bring this man
back to life. I wanted to do just that, but I did not know exactly how.
Finally, two registered nurses and then a third came veering into the
“What’s happening?,” the first nurse exclaimed.
“The man just stopped breathing,” I announced to every one. I reported to
the nurses that I was unable to find a pulse and the patient’s respiration rate
could not be seen. As I backed off two nurses came racing up to the patient
trying to locate a pulse. “Nothing, nothing,” a nurse concluded as two of them
began performing CPR. Within five extremely long minutes, the oldest nurse
whispered, “It’s too late.”
Right on the spot, the nurse had pronounced the patient dead. I could
not believe this scene was actually taking place. For the first time I saw a
human die right in front of my own eyes. The death to me did not sink in my
head, until a nurse ordered me to call the funeral home, while she would be
talking to the family. When I hung up the phone I was again in the room alone
with a corpse who seemed to just stare at me. The room now seemed to carry a
different indescribable scent that I will never forget. Nurse Jane then walked
in the room. She wanted me to clean the body before the coroner would arrive.
Before cleaning the body, I first had to remove the IV line out of
patient’s left arm. Removing the IV itself was an experience. I did not
imagine that a dead person would still bleed. Being unprepared for the stream
of blood, a puddle splashed out onto the spotless, white tile floor. I grabbed
a towel immediately and began applying pressure to the IV site. After a few
minutes, I tried sticking a band-aide on the cut, but blood still came gushing
out. I was about to remove the oxygen tubing from the patient’s nose when I
felt that this man was still alive and watching me. I became extremely nervous.
It looked as he was analyzing our hospital procedures. I started trembling as I
removed the bloody towel off the bed. His eyes were still half shut as I tried
to avoid any eye contact. In my mind I was telling myself that this man was
just sleeping and not to worry.
Ten minuets later, a coroner arrived pushing in an old black stretcher.
He asked me to help him lift the body up with the under sheets onto a hard board.
The coroner then hid the body under a thick vinyl plastic sheet. When the body
was removed from the room I was still not at ease. I felt that maybe I should
have done more, or done something differently. This was the first time I have
ever had an experience with a dead body on the job. Hospital workers always say,
you encounter many, but your first one is always the unforgettable. After
experiencing this event, I spent a lot of time with myself thinking. Thinking
about how precious life really is. I began to think of how important it is for
me to experience everything that I want to, for one day I would run out of time.
Life and death became more than just words to me. They had a special meaning
with a lot of motivation behind them. From that day on I have spent more time
smelling flowers and having fun, because I know one day I will not be able to.