I watched a man die in front of me
Even as a medic, there was nothing I could do. This is a story about processing the casual nature of a death in Kyiv this week, as US lawmakers dither over whether to send life-saving aid to Ukraine.
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“Of all the world’s wonders, which is the most wonderful?”
“That no man, though he sees others dying all around him, believes that he himself will die.”
-An exchange from the Mahābhārata, a Sanskrit text.
His skin was already blue-ish gray by the time I reached him, with rubble laying all around.
His limbs were splayed out in inhuman directions. Blood flowed from his face.
I tore off my winter gloves and put two fingers firmly on his carotid artery, behind his jaw, and felt what we medics would call a ‘thready’ pulse – a thin, weak, fading heartbeat.
Placing the back of my palms on his chest, I felt for rise and fall – but he wasn’t breathing. His skin color reflected that awful fact.
A silent, distraught friend kneeled nearby, holding the man’s head and neck in place.