To be read at your own risk
Not wisecracking here, but poor nurse's husband. That's not even his job. I would have called it after however long people are known to be able to be revived, or once vital signs were conclusive. I assume nurses are trained in that capacity.
When I take my job "home" with me (actually work from home and almost always have) it just entails spotting typos and inadvertent humour in word choice.
Thanks for the story. I want to see the funny prose from your students, or you!
Maybe that’s my issue while writing? I don’t know how to accurately convey those details of the dead or dying without sounding either cold or super creepy. Don’t get me wrong I’ve perfected my bedside manner. Residents love me. Even the dying ones. Sometimes I’m last person they talk to. I try to be as goofy and conversational as possible in their last hours. Hell I try to be that way all the time because I never know if it’s the last time I might see them. Or if it’s the last time anyone might see them. I’m a hokey cornball and that’s how I’ll be when they go into the black. Even the toughest patients can’t break my will you have them laugh at my inappropriate humor in the face of that.
In my head I have a library of them like books on a shelf, because I can’t take pictures or write their names down. I’m a bit of a storehouse and I don’t consider it a burden but a blessing to have met so many interesting people.
Perhaps I’ll try the prompt and do show and tell when you ask for our writing.
Taking a deep pause while reading this Chuck. Threw various components of my own approach into a tailspin. In a good way. Thank you.
The story about the man who died in the Studio 54 air vent...I keep thinking about that story and I'm fascinated by it. His need to be part of that group. His embarrassment. Because of the music and partying no one heard him scream. I can only imagine what he was thinking once he realized he was stuck.
Is the homework to come up with meaningful stories or is it specifically to attempt to write this one and post it here?
I can't stop thinking that those parents had to know too and they were just to horrified to ask them to stop. Yikes!
On my birthday in 2020, I was writing at this coffee shop in Arvada, CO. I loved this place. It was decidedly un-gentrified. Odd kitsch, not terribly tidy, and it felt like hanging out at my Mamaw's house. The owners were amazing people who treated me like family as soon as I met them.
I'm sitting in the bay window where I always sit, and I see a cop walk past, then back, and around a corner into an alley. I'm tapping away at keys on my 10 year old laptop with headphones in, and see fast movement peripherally. It's the same officer running toward the front door to my left. She comes in, and I track her behind me as she passes. A woman had collapsed on the floor, and I was oblivious. The officer began to administer CPR, but I immediately heard that unmistakable rattling sound. She (the cop) kept going, but she had to have known as well. The EMT's showed up, cut the woman's shirt off, and tried to shock life into her between more bouts of chest compressions, and pumping air into her through a mask. I watched them try this 6 times to no avail, and I couldn't help but think that I need to write a lot faster. Memento Mori.
Wow. I've been trying to read posts from the beginning and catch up rather than reading the most recent and then I had my cousin visiting from West Virginia and I hadn't been on for several days. I checked my email and this was at the top, I said "fuck it, I can catch up later and read the most recent both." It is creepy that this would be what I read since I was personally involved in a story with a similar situation. Chuck, I've written you a couple times and met you a couple times, but with the amount of people you meet and the stories you hear, I'm not sure how much you would remember. My 37 yr old brother Josh had been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and then a week before I talked to you at NC COMICON my cousins wife was murdered by her 15 year old son, his stepson. I wrote to you and you sent a return letter and a box full of the best and most thoughtful gifts. I kept meaning to send a thank you letter and didn't until after a couple I met on the one month anniversary of my brother Josh's death, lost their son on the 2nd day I'd known them. I ended up writing to you right after because during some of my most tragic life events, you somehow are always weaved through them bringing some joy and light in the darkness. I met her youngest sister at the funeral and ended up giving her one of your books to read on her drive back out west because like me, you are her favorite author. But I digress, the dads name is Josh and I had word vomited by brothers loss and the loss of someone every year for 10 years. Fast forward to 24 hours later and their only son, 4 years old is hit by a truck and my husband is doing CPR. I rushed the 10 other children into our friends house and went back and forth from the window praying until I saw my husband collapsed in the sidewalk crying hysterically. A man I've maybe seen cry twice in our 20 years together. The firemen had came and taken over CPR, their son was put in the ambulance. His parents had to drive separately, to this day I can not believe Josh was able to drive behind that ambulance. Anyway, I write all this because his mom told myself, her sister and a few other friends the story of what happened when they got to the hospital and she said they were working on him when they got there and very shortly after they stopped and called time of death. She said it all seemed like theatrics, like they were just waiting on them to see they were still trying and once they did, that they quit. She said she thought he'd been gone since impact and that everyone was just trying to make them feel like they'd done all the could. She said they let them see him and she laid down with him on the gurney and put her cheek on his cheek and he was already getting cold. My husband definitely experienced PTSD from the part he played in trying to save him. He keep seeing images of his little mouth and teeth for months and hearing the sounds of the mother's screams. I already had PTSD long before this tragedy but it does reinforce your worst case scenario mindset when you see your worst fear happen in front of your eyes. It was 2 weeks before I could let my 11 year old cross the street in front of our house by himself. I think that women and her husband would have some lasting trauma from an hour of that. Thanks for always sharing the hard stuff. I have found that sharing my stories are therapeutic for me and each time heals another small piece.
As a parent, I’m conflicted on how I would have wanted the nurse and her husband to react. My gut says, even if they weren’t there I wouldn’t have stopped, even after an hour, until the paramedics arrived. Just holding onto the slimmest of chances. But, damn. That would be a tough one to write. But worthy of the time.
I can’t help but wonder if the parents figured it out, too, before the paramedics got there. And neither couple could bring themselves to say it first. So devastating. But I could see how peripheral details and questions start to build into a story.
By the way, I’m so for this: Not for digging up emotional horror stories or sterilizing them altogether- but detailing real life events and shedding light on how people traverse unknown and difficult situations. We need more of those specific storytelling details you mentioned, so we can better understand a broader scope of the human experience. In turn, I think that makes us better people.
Nurses never get a vacation. End of story.
I’m an RN and I worked in long term care. If a resident was “full code” it meant we had to perform all life sustaining measures in instances of cardiac or respiratory arrest. It was normal protocol to do CPR on the corpse until EMS arrived to call the death.
“Only the tough ones are worth writing.” So, back in December (I think?) you told me to step away from the first completed draft of the big piece I’m working on. I’ve given you updates here and there. The plot is intricate. There are a lot of pieces to sew together. Last time I updated you I let you know that I’d thrashed through it and gotten rid of everything that didn’t work per your advice (along with writing something else to become less attached to it). Tonight I had a breakthrough on how it’s going to work. I’ve been studying the time jumps in Slaughterhouse Five and trying to think of my own and how to do it in a new way that is fresh. Anyway, finally, I came up with it and I’m really really happy I was patient with it and finally figured it out as opposed to just putting my head down and writing more shit that wouldn’t fit my story. On Rogan, when talking about everything you’ve written, you said something to the effect of it being like looking at a wall you’ve built and wondering how you got that stone up there. That was such a great way of putting it. And I don’t care what happens with my story once it’s published, even if only one person likes it I’ll be happy that I put my best foot forward and written something that is deeply personal. There have been times where I’ve felt very low and discouraged, but every time something new clicks into place I get such a rush and feel so much better. Writing is so damn hard, but it’s so rewarding along the way.