28.1.05

Grace

She had come to the ER seizing, overdosed on coke, sometime in the morning before I arrived. She came fighting, swearing and combative. The nurses restrained her, searched for a usable vein in her wasted body, finally giving her a needle in the neck.

When I arrived she had been in a room for several hours, homeless, nameless, hopeless. Yelling at the nurses (or maybe God, or the universe), “Fuck you!” – I don’t know if any one responded. Finally silent, she began to shake. No longer high, no longer seizing. She curled tight into a ball, crying with the pain of withdrawal, her filthy dark hair obscuring her face.

“Will you send her to detox?” I asked one of the nurses.

“It’s not worth it.”

And so I, merely an observer there, sat and listened. I watched the nurses as they joked loudly, dehumanizing their patient; coping in the only way they could, I suppose. Nonetheless I was heartsick that they would deny her humanity, something she could not rise up and claim for herself.

They added, in their way, to her list of “withouts”– homeless, nameless, hopeless – and to them, worthless.

I left the ER before she did, and paused as I passed her open door. Suddenly seeing not the worthless addict, but the form of a child: A daughter, now lost. All at once past her wasted, curled body I saw the grace of someone’s little girl. I saw the simple human grace denied her by the nurses (only one more addict in an endless stream), her own lost sense of grace, and that denied her by this world. Most of all, I saw all that had been buried, burned away, in line upon graceful line of crystalline powder.

4 Comments:

Blogger Dr. Charles said...

a painful scene - almost nightly in the ER i'm afraid.. kudos to you for seeing her humanity.

12:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, wonderful writing. Extremely painful scene. I am quite familiar with it unfortunately. You painted it very well. Great stuff

1:18 AM  
Blogger Third Degree Nurse said...

Yes, unfortunately, I agree with you. But even though I abhor the nurses' attitude and behavior, I agree with them to a point.

Whenever I see an addict, I remind myself that this was somebody's child at one time. After time, however, addiction sucks the soul from a person, and you're left with something that is not human, but only an extension of the drug. I liken it to be similar to the Dementors in the Harry Potter books, sucking out the souls of their victims.

1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You said:
"I watched the nurses as they joked loudly, dehumanizing their patient; coping in the only way they could, I suppose."

And responses were:
"kudos to you for seeing her humanity"...

"addiction sucks the soul from a person, and you're left with something that is not human, but only an extension of the drug. I liken it to be similar to the Dementors in the Harry Potter books, sucking out the souls of their victims."

Questions -
Is the soul that "copes" not in blind cahoots with the unseen Dementors?

Is the "seeing" soul not struck dumb by the same Dementors?

Is it that the "extension of the drug" has no so much had "its" soul sucked OUT of it as not had any filling placed INTO it?

Ah, but me thinks ALL we souls are at once victims and agents of the Dementors -

2:27 AM  

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