2020 Creative Writing Award Recipient: Josh Kwan

Josh Kwan graduated magna cum laudefrom West Coast University with BSN in 2012. He obtained his FNP and DNP from Western University of Health Sciences. His doctoral project focused on improving educational programs related to nurses’ knowledge and competency skills. His work will potentially reduce medication errors and mortality rate related to adverse drug events. Before enrolling in the acute care nurse practitioner at YSN, he worked as a hospitalist in two hospitals providing care for vulnerable and underserved populations. He is eager to find better solutions to address current healthcare issues through integration of higher education and research scholarships into practice.

I See Me

“Trauma in room four. Trauma in room four.” A very loud overhead announcement was heard all over the emergency unit. Five trauma nurses run towards trauma room four, three attending physicians rushed into the room, one general surgeon waiting in hallway, and six medical supporting staff prepared the trauma room. Overhead announced again, “One minute, trauma team, one minute.” The trauma manager came running and shouted, “Suit up everybody, suit up. We have a young John Doe—gunshot wound to the chest. Suit up everybody”. Trauma room was ready; everyone was on high alert; everyone had specific a assignment. Everyone was breathing in unison. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, while all eyes were looking in the hallway, waiting to see the first glimpse of the patient.

Bang! The door opened. A gurney rolled in. Two nurses were pushing the gurney, and three EMTs were doing ACLS. The trauma team, surgeons, residents, lead pharmacist, RTs, and nurses worked tirelessly during the first ten minutes. Patient was intubated. ACLS lasted for about 15 minutes—no 

pulse no breathing noted. Multiple epi shots were given and rounds of chest compressions and electric shocks rendered. Patient still pulseless. Several staff lined up taking turns on chest compressions. Spills of blood seen all over the room. X-ray and ultrasound machines, ventilator, blood bank, and extra supplies were prepared for emergent use. After 29 minutes, everyone in the room was exhausted. After the last round of CPR, the supervising physician made the death announcement. 

The triage was stopped. The patient expired. Police officers surveyed the scene and gave signal to medical staff to start clearing the room. Some medical staff left the room and nurses started clearing up. Endotracheal tube was removed. Trauma room was decluttered. Staff cleaned patient’s face with clean water and towel. Body was covered with white linen from upper chest down and face exposed. The body was prepared to be presented to the family.

During that time, I helped the remaining staff clearing the trauma room. I cleaned unnecessary machines and moved them out to the hallway. While cleaning the room, I glimpsed the dead body of the young guy. My thought during that time was, “Poor guy, such a young age. Ok, we’d better clean this room timely and move the body to the next room so that the patient’s family can spend more time with the patient.” 

Due to the overall patient load, I expected that the patient’s mother would come in, say her goodbyes, and assist them to another room for more private time. Then, I would assist the remaining staff to prepare the trauma room for the incoming trauma case. 

However, unexpected turn of events happened…

When the mother came in, I noticed she had unusual facial expression. Her face showed no emotion. She was saying hi to staff and immediately walked towards her son. She stood next to the body for about five minutes. She was quiet and just staring at her son. Everyone in the room got so quiet and everyone was just staring at her. She was caressing her son’s hair, gently touching his face, and hugged him for almost ten minutes. Her eyes were teary, but she held her emotions too tightly. Everyone in the room was tensed. We were looking and glancing at each other trying to figure out what was happening and what to do at that time. After 20 minutes, the mother started talking in a very calm voice and while gently caressing the patient’s head. 

Then she said, “Hey there. You look great my son. I have your favorite jacket and shoes; I know you wore these today. Hey, I know you are just sleeping. Come on, wake up, let’s go home, okay. We are going to have a big Christmas party—grandma, grandpa, your cousins will be there. Your sisters are waiting for you at home. We have a very special gift for you this Christmas. Come on, get up. Wake up, mommy is here, everything well be just fine, okay. Remember, I promised you a very nice vacation, somewhere far, somewhere quiet, somewhere fun. But please, just please, promise me you’ll go home tonight. We’ll have dinner with your sisters and pops. Please wake up, please wake up. Just hold my hand, hold me. I am here now; I will protect you. No one can hurt you now, okay. You are my baby. Please, just please open your eyes.” She whispered to his ear. Then, her emotions came through. She cried and cried. She was intensely sobbing. Then she said, “Ok son, I will let you rest for now. Please remember that mommy loves you very much. I never left you and never will. But before I’ll go, please always remember me. I’m your mother, remember all those things we shared. If you’re not able to come home today, I will understand’. 

After hearing her words, I lost it. I got out of the room. My tears did not hold back. I had to compose myself quickly so I can attend other patients during that rotation. Later that night, the patient was identified. He was an 18-year-old male who died from multiple gunshot wound in the chest. I wondered how this case got me. I’m always good in dodging emotions while at work. But why this time it got me so bad. Throughout the night, I kept thinking and questioning myself, why? why? I looked hard on it, and I realized that when the mother was saying goodbye to her son, I saw myself lying down on that trauma bed. I saw myself telling my mom that I was fine and begging her to move on. I am a mommy’s boy, and my greatest fear in life is to see my mom in a difficult situation. When I saw myself lying down on that bed, I felt my ultimate fear just happened. I know it wasn’t a déjà vu, but hearing those words from the patient’s mother seemed exactly similar to what I would say to my mom in reverse situation.