In the middle of the dessert, sandwiched in the flat lands of West Texas, lies a town called Lubbock.
From the birds eye it is configured like a scrabble board of lights and streets perpendicular like a compass pointing North and West.
In the center lies a loop, and in the loop lies the city, and in that city sits a hospital by the side of a man made lake, that within this structure on the second floor, with a view to the lake, is a room with a window, and on the other side of the pane, a soul looks outward for a breath of fresh air as a scorpion of indecision weighs heavy on his chest.
A pandemic is bourne by exhausted breath, and carried on the heels of an ill wind sweeping over the plains of America. And as such, has landed here, becoming owner and landlord of this man’s body...
The Reaper has a new nest found to roost.
The man splayed on the bed before me was aptly named. He had the tone and physique of a warrior. Alot of tatoo’s on this man’s arms and chest. It wasn’t the art that suggested strenth, but the nobility in his face, untaut with frown or wrinkle, seemingly released from the world’s daily taxes by a medically induced narcotic slumber.
The comparison to myth was ironic, as when Samson met his love Delilah, his strength was unfulred by her beauty. In this case as well, great strength undone by an unexpected interloper, the swine flu.
Up until now everything had been pending... a flu epidemic, isolation wards, vaccine shortages, a potential disaster of national proportions, or some sort of near extinction of one species or another. Basically- your end of time scenario, that impending tsunami where immenent doom and all the goodies associated with sentences containing the phrase: "end of the world", come to bear.
What was clearly evident to me at this moment, was that a young, 25 year old man had a date with destiny, a turn in the corner that I would join him on- to whatever end I had no clue.
As a perfusionist, putting people on bypass (the heart-lung machine) is something I do on a daily basis. We work in tandem with the heart team, in undoing to the heart and body, damage incurred as the end result of alot of poor choices, genetics, age, or just poor fortune.
In this case misfortune comes to mind. Fate, Kismet, come uppance, whatever- just a bad lottery ticket for this warrior.
The problem here is not the heart, but the cytokine induced storm that has ravaged his lungs due to the H1N1 flu virus. Placing this young man on ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) essentially relieves his lungs of their work load and allows us to assist in making sure his body gets enough oxygen to survive, while allowing his lungs to rest. Essentially we "bypass" his lungs and emulate their function lending new meaning to the term "a breath of fresh air".
Every salvage operation seems to have a subtle caveat. That speck of dust on the resume’, the misprint on the warranty, and in this case the purity of the effort slightly diluted by rumors of jail time, and gang affiliations tatooed to the body to be ressurected.
Not to say that any of us are absent impurities of thought and deed, but every rescue seems better started off as a fairy tale, rather than a day time soap opera. In other words- I’ll take Walt Dysney over Stephen King if we’re going to get this one started.
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