I had a horrible dream. I dreamed that Herself had died.

It wasn’t one of those epic dreams where she dies, the music swells and the camera closes in on my anguished face. 

This dream was perfectly real. There we were in bed. I’m falling into the wooly comfort of sleep, thinking of nothing but the oblivion that comes with a well-earned oblivious nap. Then I suddenly notice that Herself is no longer breathing.

I grab her hip. It’s the part of her that is the most accessible. I give that hip a hearty shake, enough to wake any sleeping person. She flops under my efforts like a collection of meat and bone.


Somehow, in an instant, I’ve pulled her off the bed onto the floor. The phone is off the hook, emergency number dialed and I’m shouting instructions to the dispatcher as I pound on her chest and blow my own air into her cheeks and lungs.

There’s an ambulance (staffed with those I know and trust), a ride to the hospital (I’m directing drug & defibrillation efforts from my position as the one who is keeping up chest compressions), the transfer to the ER staff and then the painful, inevitable declaration of death.

I’m still in my pajamas, knees to my chest, back to the bulk of the nurse’s station, staring at the complication of equipment, people, wires and drugs that can’t possibly be a real person.

Everyone is doing everything. Yet, somehow, someone "Calls it" and the time of death is noted on a paper somewhere. 

Somehow, all of the worst things I’ve ever seen/done/been a part of has happened to me.

I’m sweating as I wake up. I find myself alarmed to be in the same position and condition as when this dream started. The noise of our AC keeps me from hearing Herself’s breathing.

My hands find her femoral artery (pounding away)  and feel the rise and fall of her ribs as she breathes (regular and normal).

Just a dream, maddog, just a dream.

In my coffee – hour after waking, I think of this dream. In my job, I meet people who live this horror. As the ‘medic, I experience these events  with a certain amount of dispassion. Am I being told?



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  • Scribbles412

    Yes. You are. Take this “gift” on your next “good” call.

  • Hilinda

    It is a fine line we ride, between compassion and control. It is easy to forget, in the moment,  that what is common and “normal” for us, is far from it for “them.”
    I have two things I spend the most time working on. One is constantly updating, refining and practicing my skills. The other is that I want every patient, on every call, to feel cared for. I want that to be their lasting impression, above and beyond the medical aspect.

    I’m glad it was “just” a nightmare, maddog.