miércoles, 19 de julio de 2017


I wrote this post this in 2009 in Spanish while I was doing my clerkship in the Stroke Unit in Madrid. For some reason, today, I have recalled Carmen (Needless to say that this was not her real name):


The light coming through the window told her it must be about noon. Carmen was 85 and she did not recall getting up so late anytime before in her whole life. She opened the eyes with the feeling of not being fully awake. She had been listening unknown voices in the last minutes. She could also hear voices from relatives who she had not seen for a while. She had a terrible headache. She did not remember such a heavy hangover.
Such a weird dream, she thought while she decided to cook something. She was going to cook some turkey with redcurrant sauce. It was her special recipe, and if she cook enough food, her children would have a reason to come home to visit her. She had the feeling of  being listening one of her sons.

-How is she doing, Doc?
-It is too soon yet, we need to wait to see her progress.

But Carmen did not feel bad. She was going to get up and see what was happening. She hold her arms to get up. It took a while to realize that she could not. Then, she tried to run away, but she could not. She was inside of one of these dreams where you want to move, but your body is too heavy and you are not able to do anything.

Without announcing she felt a blinding light in her eyes. She closed them because it bothered her. She opened them again later. There were people coming back and forth from her visual field. She knew that they were there because she could listen them, she felt their presence and she could even smell them.

-Can you hear me? Of course, I can! I am not deaf! Despite the arrhythmia that she has been suffering from some years and her obesity, Carmen was doing well so far. She would tell him that to end the situation.

She tried very hard, but the words did not come to her mouth. Then, a younger female doctor told her: blink twice if you understand what I am saying. She did. She still could open and close her eyes that was something, given the circumstances.

In the right side of that room, in the middle of the shadows that were progressively  darkening Carmen's life, there was a student who learnt what a locked-in syndrome was. She would never forget how awful could be a basilar stroke. She remembered a Theater that she had seen some weeks ago in her college, "Johny got his gun" and she felt really sorry for not being in a fiction this time.

Those days, nobody was able to speak to Carmen and tell her what was really happening to her. It was her last week of life. She was trying to run away far from that bed for that long week without her body following her. She was locked-in a body that did not respond. It was the longest week in her life. Eight days later she died from pneumonia. I hope she went to a place were her body was not too heavy. Hopefully she could eventually rest in peace.

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