Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Sometimes things happen that render you paralyzed with the horror of it all, speechless with its senselessness, dizzy with the Why of it, and nauseated with the thought that there may never be an answer. When things of this variety come wheeled in on a gurney through the hospital emergency room doors, I have endogenous adrenaline to help override the otherwise innate desire within me to make sense of the situation. When there is a patient with severe closed head injuries due to a high speed car crash and another patient next door with a pneumothorax, a long bone fracture and a blood alcohol level triple the legal limit, it simply doesn’t matter in the moment of their arrival that the drunk patient is the driver of the car that caused the accident. The only thing that matters is timely and appropriate care. That’s what I’ve been trained to do, and so I do it.

When things of this variety happen in a small community of which I am not directly affiliated…there is no adrenaline, there is nothing for me to busy myself with, and I am allowed to sit, in stunned silence, to take it all in…and to wish, like the students and faculty at Virginia Tech and like the rest of the country, that things like this didn’t happen.

If there’s anything I’ve come to appreciate in my line of work, it’s that life is fragile and tragically fickle…but the human soul and spirit can sometimes be unimaginably, outstandingly valiant and invincible. I just wish it didn’t take tragedies like this to make the world realize that.


Waspgoddess said...

It's almost spooky to return to the UK from Istanbul where I read "We need to talk about Kevin" by Lionel Shriver, only to come face to face with the news of an atrocity which so reminded me of the book. Why, why, why would anyone do something like that?

I have to say it seems the university made a massive error by not closing down the campus after the first two shootings.

La Cubana Gringa said...

It does seem odd that classes weren't canceled after the earlier incident...though I, for one, can vouch for how unbelievably fast time seems to fly when in the midst of a tragedy. Still, it kinda leaves you feeling like 30 more lives could have been saved had there been some definitive action taken, I agree.

la bellina mammina said...

I have been speechless since I watched the tragedy on TV.

Jay said...

I wish that too.
It's easy to point the finger of blame after the fact, but I doubt anyone could have done much better, and hindsight never helps anyway.
If classes were cancelled, then the thousands of people who travelled to school that day would have been milling out in open spaces. You cannot protect people from a guy with a psychotic break and a handgun.
But people are so horrified it just makes them feel better to be angry at someone.

Catherine said...

Yeah, this whole thing put me in a serious funk. The knowledge that I brought four little human beings into a world that is so randmomly unsafe just depresses the hell right out of me.

La Cubana Gringa said...

lbm - Hi. It unravels like a horrible movie, doesn't it?

jay - You make an excellent point...I didn't even think about the fact that, had classes been cancelled, there might have been more moving targets around.

catherine - Hopefully your kids (and my future kids) will figure out a solution to all this madness.