Of STEMIs, Sojourns, and Summonses

Nonfiction by | May 15, 2016

There is something transcendent in the arbitrariness of things that instigates in me a tacit appreciation that despite the hysteria and the bedlam of random life, there is a hand that steers my keel towards safe harbor.

Contrary to pervasive belief, Dubai can get really chilly during the winter months when the ambient temperature plummets to 14 degrees Centigrade. Despite the weather, the adrenaline rush of the Friday graveyard shift is on fever pitch. It is dark and cold outside. A fifty year old local complaining of severe chest pain has just been wheeled into the Emergency Department. Within the prescribed “golden hour,” nurses on duty should have taken the ECG, identified the critical rhythm (in his case, an ominous ST segment elevation), sent in the requisite labs, and prepared the gentleman for transfer to the Cath Lab. He is having an acute heart attack (in medical parlance, a STEMI – ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction). I am the Team Leader tonight and there is a collective whoop among nurses – Kabayans mostly – after the ED doctor complimented the group’s efficiency. The patient is in stable condition now. Still there is an unutterable twinge I could scarcely quench that takes the edge off the exhilaration of the moment.

This is one of the rare times when things sputter up out of my daily routine like fire out of ashes I’d thought were long since departed, and by the flickering, I envision things, or imagine I do, that for too fleeting a time may not count much in the ruse of events but just enough of a tug to linger in memory like a pleasant dream. And upon waking up, I begin to ask myself questions: Have you ever felt that there is something that you were supposed to be doing? Do you experience a nagging feeling deep inside you that you are not supposed to be in the time and place you are in now? Would you rather be the person receiving the patient at the Cath Lab and not the one endorsing him to further care?

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