Monday, November 08, 2004

A process called Death

I always thot that death is an event unlike birth. The heart snaps and in a split second the person is dead. But I was wrong, death is not an event..its a process. I sat and watched death from a distance of less than 5 foot for around 5 hrs. Its a terrible experience. My uncle was gasping for air since 10pm in the night. The doc asked us to inform the near and dear ones. He said that it was the last few minutes not even hours. Cancer was going to kill him. The hospital room was filled with around 25 relatives in no time. Thanks to mobile phones. But the doc was wrong. Uncle had hours remaining. The oxygen pumped into the nose nor the drips pumped into the veins would help. I counted that uncle used to take 20 deep gasps every minute. The mouth would not close. The eyes were semi open. I got the "Ganga jal" in a small sealed container and kept it in the drawer next to the bed.

11:30 night
Uncle could hear and he would turn his face towards the voice. Eye balls used to move. BP was very low 90-60. He would close his mouth to gulp in the water put into the mouth.
12:30 night
He wouldnt recognise voices. The eye balls still moved in pain I belive. Hands and legs stopped moving. He would still gulp the water. Death has started.
My cousin who is another doctor checked BP. There is no BP. No pulse. She says the heart is not powerful enuf to pump blood to the hands and legs. But the heart still beats. The beats are just enuf to pump blood to the head and heart itself. Water still goes in. She touches his chest and after some examination says that the lower body has reached coma. She puts light into his eyes using torch, and the eyeball moves indicating that brain is active. Death is continuing.
The gasping reduces to 12 per minute. Water can still be gulped in. Eyeballs wont move. Heart continues to beat. Legs and arms turn cold. This was the first time I touched and to my surprise it was ice cold. Head is still warm indicating blood circulation. Tears (I will call it fluid) starts flowing out of the eyes slowly. Was it because of the pain caused by the cancer? Death is winning the battle with life.
There is a loud cough and gasping stops. Cousin puts stethescope on the chest and tries to hear. She can't hear anything. The mouth is still open. The eyes are semi open. Death has taken over.

It took 5 long hours to kill. I have lost 2 more relatives in this calender year. But their death was less painful. One died in sleep and the other just collapsed in a shop. This was terrible. You know that the person will die but you wait for death. It's really painful to sit. To be honest when all hopes were lost I prayed for the death to take over quickly. After death events are even more painful. To console the family is in itself a big task. Experience helps in this.

Like finger prints and DNA, they say that no two death process are similar.

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