Not Dead

But not alive, either. I am finding myself more interested in the unconscious, the semi conscious, and the unaware. Not by choice- my interest, I mean. I’m talking about people- children, really- who cannot swallow, eat, move much, speak, sign, or otherwise communicate, but are still “in there”. SOme of them breathe on their own, some do not. Not every person in this state has given me the feeling that they are in there, locked into their body somehow. Some people seem merely vegetative. I don’t judge. Every patient get spoken to, warned of my intentions to wash them or turn them or put meds through their G tube. Every patient gets TV or music or videos. We dim the lights at night and turn the lights on during the day, even for those whose brain injuries have most likely rendered them centrally blind. ( This is blindness not because the eye has failed, but because the brain has been injured and cannot interpret what the eye sees. Or, perhaps, has no connection to what the eye sees.)

Some children are just as unresponsive to the world and yet still have such pesence. I have puzzled over why this is. There are the outside cues, like photos of the child when well, or at least less sick. A lot of bedsides are festooned with these heart lacerating photos. Some children’s beds are decorated with toys and stuffed animals that they seem unaware off, yet are ritually and tenderly arranged by family and nurses. But some of the children with the most stuff surrounding them are the most gone, and I do not get that mild electricity that signals someone at home.

I do not know who, or how, or why. I only know it is so.

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