ICU, Easter, 2020
An outsider looking in might imagine they were seeing the interior of a space ship; ventilators, dialysis machines, monitors surrounded a station full of computers and strange-looking creatures, indistinguishable from one another. In gowns, masks, goggles and gloves with only a scribble like a tattoo above the heart to tell who was who and what part they played in a war against an invisible enemy on a battlefield set up to monitor and measure heart rate, oxygen levels, blood pressure. They moved around proned bodies as if they themselves were one body. Seven surrounded a bed, three down either flank, one at the head like a Captain turning a wheel while talking a crew through a maneuver. One dropped an Actichlor tablet into a bucket and screwed a mop-head to a pole like a bayonet. Another wheeled a dirty linen hamper. One does obs. Two made up drugs. Another set up a trolley for intubation. One spoke to a visitor via Zoom. An insider looking in wouldn’t know a porter from a doctor, a domestic from a nurse. Amid machines bleeping and flashing, staff in aprons and gowns like layers of skin worked as vital organs: each had a function; they did one job so other jobs could be done.
Day & Night
That day we went puddle-hunting in our wellies. Whenever we caught a good one, we jumped in to see if it hid a big splash or a wee splash. Back home I found Ticklies nesting in your oxters: wee birdies who feed fledglings on toddler-giggles! Then it was sleepy-time for you; work-time for me. That night, in full PPE, I was sent for a body bag and went behind curtains drawn on a man's last day.