Friday, March 11, 2011

Death's Second and Most Traumatic Visit

 At the age of fifteen I had already experienced the death of someone that was close. It was now time, once again at age fifteen, for me to lose someone that was as close to me as a brother. His name was Lance Prater and his death changed me, forever.
  In 1974, my Mother was a nurse at the local hospital working on the same floor that my grandmother was a patient. I had decided that I was going to become a doctor, so, I spent as much time at the hospital as the staff would allow. As I was standing at the window of my grandmother's room I heard the sound of an ambulance siren. My pulse became a little faster in anticipation of the arrival of the ambulance. When I got a glimpse of the flashing lights of the ambulance, out the door I flew. I found my Mom and told her that I was headed to the ER to see the medics bring in their patient. My Mom told me to stay out of the staff's way as I was a regular at the ER when an ambulance approached. The ER Nurse knew my Mother and my interest in medicine and tolerated my visits because I stayed out of the way and knew when to stay away from the patients and their families. I had seen numerous patients being brought in and had some of the staff even giving me lessons on basic emergency medicine. They thought it great that I was showing such an interest in medicine at such an early age. This ambulance call would be the last one I would see for quiet a while because of the people involved. I came out of the elevators and made a quick right down the hall to the ER department when I saw my football coach walk in with the front of his shirt covered in blood. Confusion had set in because several more people came in and I knew them all. I hit the button that opened the door to the rear staff entrance and saw a gurney with a body, lying face down, completely covered in a sheet, being wheeled into a room. I knew, from my experience, that it was serious to be put in a room. If a patient came in as a non life threatening issue the staff usually put the patient in cubicles, separated by a curtain. One person rolled the patient in the room and immediately came back out of the room. This was not good. I exited the ER the same way I went in and walked around to the ER waiting room. It was filled with many of my classmates from school and the brother and Mother of my best friend. I mean we were close. If he was not at my house , then I was at his, most of the time. I saw Lance's Mom, his brother, and the hospital chaplain, along with many others from our school. A couple of the ER nurses were getting Doug, Lances brother, taking him to one of the cubicles to get checked out." Where was Lance?" I was asking myself. Then I started to think about the body the staff had put in the room and left him there. I saw another classmate and asked him if he knew what was happening. He said that Doug had been going too fast down 4th ave. in Glencoe and lost control of his car. He did not know who was in the car other than Doug. Then another ambulance pulled in and the medics brought in Wayne, another friend from the same grade. He was in a lot of pain, so, I could not get any information out of him. "Who else, was in that car?" I knew there was someone that did not make it because all the staff was treating Doug and Wayne. I left the waiting area and enter the rear staff entrance where the body was being kept. I had to know who that person was. I opened the door and went inside and it was eerily quiet. His blue socks were sticking out from under the sheets, facing downward. I was scared to death. I walked over to the head of the bed. The sheet that was covering the body was soaked with blood at the head of the bed. A lot of blood. I found the nerve to raise up the sheet and quickly backed away, almost falling. I could see enough of his face to tell it was Lance. The Parietal and Occipital region of his skull was crushed. I could see brain matter lying across the back of his neck. I could not move. I stood there with my mouth open and my mind was telling me to run like hell but I could not move. I have no idea how long I stood there when I heard Lance tell me to tell his Mother that he was in a good place. I could not be sure if the sound came from the room or inside my head. It was very clear and unmistakable, "Tell my Mother that I am in a good place." It was lance's voice but after seeing what I had just seen I knew the sound did not come from the body under the sheet. Then I heard, "Will you do that?" Again, very clear and from where it came, I do not know. I said, crying over and over, yes, yes, yes, when my Mom's friend, the ER nurse walked into the door and grabbed me and turned me toward the door and escorted me to the seventh floor, where my Mom was working. I was taken to the nurses lounge and my Dad picked me up some time later. The next several weeks were a blur. Once again, I was a messenger for someone from the other side. I have never forgot those times and now, I have a son named Lance.       theblogmeister

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