The Hospital Room

May 12, 2011
His chest moved up and down, but it had nothing to do with him. The machine that he was hooked up to filled and emptied his lungs. It smelled awful in the small room. All that was heard was the beeping of another machine that gave away his heart rate. The, thankfully, incessant beeping only occasionally interrupted by the murmuring two nurses that were doing tests on him. One of them I had seen before, his name was Darren, I never met the other. They didn't matter. All that mattered was seeing my dad, as his chest inflated and deflated.

Two days earlier on a Sunday, I was driving home from a movie at around 10 o'clock when I received a call. A call from my mom who told me that my dad was put into a hospital. I wasn't worried then, I knew that he would pull out of it; he always did. All that alcohol he used to consume made sure his life was always in danger. I learned that Christie, my dad's girlfriend, woke up to find him slouched over on his bed. He wasn't breathing.

When we got to the hospital, we met Christie in a waiting room. We exchanged hugs and our condolences to each other and each of us took a chair. For about half an hour it was silent, save for the occasional question or comment that someone made who couldn't bear the silence. A counselor eventually made his way into our little room and explained to us that they had put my dad in a hypothermia-like state in order to attempt to quell the swelling that was happening in his brain.

We got to see him after. He had been laid down on a stretcher and had a blanket over him. The blanket remained there to trick his mind in thinking that he was warm so that it wouldn't take action against the ice that was being flushed through him. I saw his chest heave up and thought that he was going to wake up, he didn't. It was just a machine that was breathing for him. He is going to pull out of it.

I couldn't stand being in there for long because every subtle movement that he made gave me hope that he would get up and say something, only to be crushed time and time again by the realization that it was only done artificially. We left the hospital after everyone had visited him. We all needed sleep. He always does. I lied myself to sleep that night.

We went back the next day, overall uneventful. Friends were starting to find out about it and sending their regards and prayers. We saw some family members that had just flown in. I saw my dad again in the same position, his chest still moved up and down. The only thing different was the lack of hope that every movement proved that he was going to wake. Next to him was an old friend and his girlfriend. His old friend made a few jokes, attempting to lighten the mood. It didn't work. I left the room with the excuse of hunger. More friends showed up. They shared their hugs and condolences, forcing me to return to his room. We learned that he was going to stay cold till one in the morning, then they would see if he was breathing on his own. He always pulls through.

Tomorrow finally came. They had already started to warm him up when we got there. He was due to be back to normal temperature at one in the afternoon. All we had to do was wait for him. All friends and family were there to help support us if worst came to worst. But it won't... Right?

One thirty slowly rolled around and the doctor came to meet us and tell us his future. We went into a meeting room where we all sat down to listen. He told us of my father's condition. He wasn't responding in any way. After being off the breathing machine for ten minutes, he still didn't breath on his own. This would prove that his brain had swollen up enough to cover up the brain stem. The brain stem is the section that controls all the subconscious actions that the body takes (i.e. blinking, reflexes, breathing...). Then the words that everyone feared came. The doctor took a breath and said, “So to the state of Colorado, he is dead....”

We were never very close. After the divorce, he signed a contract stating my sister and I stayed with him every other weekend. We held true to that for a few years, then his drinking got to be a little too much for us to handle and we stopped going. He would call to check up on us and see if we wanted to go to dinner or something to that degree. Neither of us liked to go very often, but we went. This was what was running through my head as I stared in disbelief at the doctor.

So I stand here in this small room; Standing in front of his bed. His chest still artificially moving up and down. His heartbeat still beeping away. I reach out with my hand and grab his. I grip it as tightly as I dare but with no response. I lean in closer to my dead father and whisper, “Goodbye...”





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