His lung was filling with water like a river rising in an underground cavern. The doctors gave him all sorts of things: a respirator, a feeding tube, and restraints so he wouldn't remove them. They gave him a free haircut and a shave, his beard of twenty years sacrificed to make space for his face mask. They even gave him a prognosis of about a week, but not morphine, for fear he would get addicted. They gave us a family reunion: siblings, cousins, grandchildren, all sleeping, waking, pacing together in the hospital waiting room. What they gave themselves was practice - experiments with different drugs, an intern who tubed the wrong lung, a chance to show off their sympathy. Daily they untied him, massaged his wrists, gave him paper and crayon so he could send messages to his loved ones. Pain, he wrote instead, in large shaky letters. Water. And later, smaller, Please.
return to the study: