Monday, 5 June 2017

A dying fire's ember

Earlier today I published a new short story, titled 'A dying fire's ember'. It can be read here for free at Scribd:

For those who have already read the story, don't mind spoilers, or just wish to read my thoughts and motivations behind this story, please keep reading on.

As those who have read the story may already have gathered, it's a story about life and death, as well as how those involved deal with it. It is actually based on a real story, by an actual doctor who was on duty in an American hospital's ER one day when this one heavily injured girl was carried in.

After consulting with the on-duty surgeon, it was concluded that a major vein innervating the liver had become ruptured and it was impossible to repair the damage. Even as blood packs kept the girl alive and she was talking with the doctor, being fully lucid and fine aside from this one injury by a single ricocheted bullet, it was concluded that there was no way to save her.

This doctor was left to hold the girl's hand as the life literally slowly drained out of her, until eventually the light in her eyes (the 'ember' in the story's title) faded and she died.

Upon reading the story by this doctor, I could not stop thinking about it, and had to somehow give it shape, as it seemed so important to me. The primary thing which hits one about the story is of course the utter sense of helplessness. Even though nobody wants the girl to die, they are all powerless and in the end are forced to watch her simply die.

The other thing is of course that medical progress is the only thing which makes such deaths unnecessary. For the girl who died in the real-life story, there in that real-life ER, such a death would no longer be necessary, as damage to this major vein behind the liver can relatively easily be repaired now. Anyone like her who comes into an ER now will receive surgery and will likely be fine.

This is also why in the story which I wrote I took it a little bit further. Instead of merely a singular injury to a major vein - which would be easy to fix - instead I opted for major trauma, to many veins and arteries. Such large-scale forms of internal trauma are still basically impossible to repair today, although research projects exist which aim to handle such trauma.

Today Kathy still has to die, but hopefully a future Kathy would in fact be able to walk out of that hospital alive, apologise to Marilyn for taking so long to get her that book back and to return to becoming that scientist. Maybe she'd discover something that would save the lives of many other children like her, with injuries that are still fatal today.

And our story's doctor? He wouldn't have to watch on helplessly as his patient dies in front of his eyes. Instead he would be able to visit her at her hospital bed and maybe stay in contact later as well, possibly guiding her in her future career.

That, to me is the true message of this story. Even though things may seem bleak and hopeless now, with our combined efforts and intelligence, we can prevents and fix so much suffering. Lives which would have been cut short can instead go on living. It's a message of hope, of science and complete faith in humanity as a whole.

We are in this together. We can make life better for all of us. Because we are human beings.


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