Saving a Life
We gingerly transferred her to the cold back surgical table, and Patty removed the ambu-bag from her ET tube to transfer her to the array of anesthesia equipment that would keep her safe. Patty had her lavender hoodie on already, the chill in the room would soon be removed by the intense surgical lights. We transferred monitors and Patty pumped her pink pedi bag a couple of times, this time not having to instruct the unresponsive child to watch the balloon go up and down.
I gazed at the child's swollen little eyes, purple and black from assault, the corneas blood crimson, the pupils unresponsive underneath the swollen slits. I felt a lump in my throat, a growing anger that parents could treat an innocent in this way. Patty placed gauze and tape over the blackened eyes, intended to protect the organs, but also concealing the shame of their horrific appearance. After adjusting a few dials, Patty settled back into the latest pulp novel.
We removed the polymerized spica cast. We would have to prep and incise her abdomen. Underneath the pretty pink shell, she was again purple from the assault, her little pelvis broken. My scrubs were visibly shaken. "Why are we even doing this?" asked Kevin aloud.
"Shhhhhh!" I replied. If she could hear us, I did not want her to hear the doubt, the ambivalence, the fear, and the growing anger among us. She deserved love, and hope, not rage. I prepped her as the scrubs filed outside to scrub in.
"Doctor Fakhouri, this is Chasity _________ for a Cisterna magnum shunt," I announced as the masked surgeon bent forward to dry his dripping hands and arms with the towel offered by the scrub. He said nothing in response. He just donned his gown like so many times before, stuffing his hands into the sterile gloves offered him, and performing a pirouette to wrap the ties around himself. I did not particularly care for Fakhouri. I took pleasure in pronouncing his name "Fukyuri."
The tone did not register at first. "V-Tach" announced Patty, moving instantly to the pink balloon. Shit. I stripped off the drapes and threw them across the table. No pulse. The child's battered chest and abdomen were still wet with betadine as I began bare handed compressions. I overheard Fukyuri tell a scrub to get the anesthesiologist and he stripped off his sterile paper gown and tossed it in the kick bucket on the way out. Kevin tossed me adult defibrillator pads as he hooked them up to the Codemaster.
"No, Pedi," I snapped as I threw them to the floor. I grabbed a piece of torn drape to wipe the wet betadine from the child's chest while I continued compressions. Patty was pushing drugs furiously. Kevin quickly passed the pedi-pads and I slapped them into place. I looked at Patty.
Patty looked at me. "100 joules." Crrrrrrrrick. BeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEE. "Clear?"
"Clear!" Bam! The child's body lept and shuddered with the force of the shock coursing though it. We looked at the screen, hopeful..........
Asystole. No, this is the new world. The politically correct world. Pulseless electrical activity. Dr. McIntosh charged into the suite, and was buffeted with a verbal barrage compressing the last two minutes of activity into a few seconds as I continued compressions. Crrrrrriiiiiiick BeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEE. "Clear?" he asked.
"Clear!" Hands up, thighs away from the table. Bam! The child lept and settled again, lifeless. I found my place on her little chest. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, BeeeeEEEEEEEEE.
"Clear?" Hands up, step back.
"Clear!" BAM! Shudder, settle. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, ..............
Later, we reverently washed the battered little girl, transferring her gently back to her gurney.
Tears were in Patty's eyes as we piloted the child past Recovery and to the morgue. "It's better this way, I suppose," Patty said.
"No. It's not." I replied firmly.