“Cardiac arrhythmia! We need to get her to asystole. Get the defibrillator here, now! Where’s the gel?” The doctor yelled at the nurses and attendants who were in the observation room with him. The electrocardiogram she was hooked to had indicated irregularities in her heart rate by its beeps and the lines on the screen. “Hurry up, hurry!” He yelled again.
“But sir, her ribs, they’re broken.” One of the attendants reminded him.
“Unless you have a way of stopping this woman’s heart so it can pick up and back beat to its normal rhythm, I suggest you shut the hell up and help prepare her.” He snapped.
The defibrillator was rolled to his side whilst he hurriedly tore open Bio’s robe and prepared her for the shock therapy. Her entire torso was a canvass with ugly purple black patches displayed against her caramel coloured skin. Unable to fully control his reaction to manifested anomalies in the human anatomy after six years of practice, Banu winced at the sight that lay before him and looked away. His eyes locked Pereyi’s, who was staring through a glass panel in the door. For a split second, he wondered how a mean faced man like Pereyi could have a daughter this pretty, her beauty showed even with her swollen face. Wait a minute, he thought, her face and limbs are swollen and there are no patches there. Someone handed him the paddles and he rubbed their metallic faces against each other.
“One seventy-five.” He ordered. He felt a buzz of electricity run through them, “Gel.” Someone hurriedly rubbed some gel on, then he placed the paddles. “Clear!” he screamed and pushed the buttons on each paddle. Her body spasmed. He kept his eyes on the cardiogram screen, it tweaked in a crazy manner and flatlined. He waited for thirty seconds for her heart to pick up. He rubbed the paddles together again when it didn’t, “Clear!” He screamed, and again her body spasmed and lifted off the bed a little. One of her broken ribs shifted and pushed against her skin.
“Doctor, it won’t help her. We’re causing more damage.” He heard Bose’s voice.
“One eighty-five.” He ordered after waiting a minute for the flatline to pick into a beat.
“One eighty-five, damn it.” He yelled like a deranged man.
“One eighty-five.” Someone called.
Banu rubbed the paddles together again and placed the right paddle just below her left breast and the left on the upper right side of her chest. “Clear!” The cardiogram tweaked and flatlined again. “Air, give her air.” He ordered. An oxygen bottle was brought and its mask placed on her face. He snatched it from the hand of the attendant and pumped it frantically. The cardiogram remained flat.
He returned the bottle and picked up the paddles again. “Two hundred!” He shouted. The attendant stood still. “Two hundred, I said yank it up to two hundred.” The attendant remained stationary. Banu went over to her and shoved her away then tweaked the machine to two hundred joules and once again repeated the process. Again, the cardiogram tweaked and flatlined. He grabbed the bottle and continued to pump. All eyes were on the electrocardiogram.
“Call it, Doc.” Bose said two minutes later. Banu looked at her through glazed eyes and returned his eyes to the patient and continued to pump. Bose went to his side and placed an arm on his shoulder. “It’s 11:48pm. Call it, Doc.”
Banu pushed her hand off his shoulder and continued pumping. “I’ve never lost a patient.” He muttered continuously.
“There’s always a first time, call it. 11:49pm.” Bose said and placed her hand on his.
Suddenly, the adrenaline stopped pumping and his hands stopped working. He stared at the beautiful swollen faced lady that lay before him, realization dawned. He looked up and through the glass panel at Pereyi.
Pereyi stood stock still and stared through the glass panel. He almost died when he saw the pandemonium that broke out in the room, he winced at the sight of Bio’s blotched torso, he had caught the Doctor’s eyes and in that split second had let him know that his entire world was in his hands at that moment. He jumped every time Bio’s body spasmed and almost burst in when Bio’s body lifted from the bed a bit. He could barely hear the Doctor’s orders. He felt hope surge through him when the Doctor snatched the bottle and when he shoved the attendant away from the defibrillator. He felt a pit in his stomach when everybody except the Doctor stopped moving. He hated that Bose’s hand was on his shoulder, he almost cheered when he shoved her hand off. He hated that Bose had prevailed upon him, he hated that the Doctor was staring back at him with glazed eyes, then he saw the Doctor’s lips move.
“Time of death, 11:49pm.” Banu announced and pulled off his gloves. He turned away from the others so they would not see the tears in his eyes.
Bose detached the carnulae from Bio’s body and rolled the drip stand away. “Let’s pack up.” She said and pulled off her own gloves too. Just then, she heard a sob. She turned towards Banu and went to him. She placed a hand on his back, then circled her arms around his torso. “Sweetheart,” she said, “don’t do this to yourself. It’s all in a day’s work.”
“Time of death—” Pereyi read the Doctor’s lips, and suddenly his knees became jelly like. He turned away from the door and went to the nearest seat and slumped in it. Exhaustion came over him, then pain, then rage. Thoughts flooded his mind, memories of Bio, and not one of them was like the episode he had with her earlier that day. All he wanted now was his daughter, to hold her living breathing body in his arms and wipe away every tear from her eyes, and watch every wrinkle on her face when she smiled. He closed his eyes and wailed loudly. Foot falls, quick, with the sound of heavy breathing passed him, but he didn’t bother to open his eyes, there was only thing he wanted, only one place he wanted to be, with Bio.
“But baby,” he said trying hard to fight back the tears, “I’ve never lost a patient before. I feel like I let her down, like I let Pereyi down. And worst of all, when he finds out, you know how disappointed he will be. How do I handle this?”
Bose turned him around and stared deep into his eyes. “We will handle this together, as a family.” She said and brought his head down to her bosom. They stood there for a few seconds, then Bose swayed this way and that, humming a tune, Banu followed her steps and listened to her hum. Soon she faced the others who stood still and watched the couple, touched by such passion to succeed and this display of affection and comfort. Bose paused for a second and directed them with her eyes to continue the job of detaching tubes and wires from Bio’s body and rolling it to the morgue. The attendants and nurses went about their business while Bose continued to hum and sway.
“I can’t ever imagine losing you,” he said, “any one of you.” He lifted his head from Bose’s bosom and looked at her tummy. He held her hands and looked at the ring on her finger, “I defibrilated her, I’m responsible. I let a life slip through my hands. I know I wouldn’t be able to handle it if one of us let’s you go like that. I can’t imagine what Oga Pereyi will be going through right—”
Rosemary burst into the observation room, her eyes frantic; “Doctor!” she screamed, “The father of the bifida case! Come quick.”
Banu stared at her questioningly, hurriedly cleaning his eyes.
“He ingested a bottle of disinfectant.”
“Enyinnaya?” Banu almost shouted. There was a beep, “No, not now. Why would he do that?” Another beep, and another, and another.
Banu was already rushing out the room when he heard Bose’s scream. “She’s alive, Doctor, Bio is alive.”
I AM ONE MEN