I responded to a cardiac arrest code on this young girl in her twenties. Most of my patients are old. Seeing this young, beautiful girl clinging onto life was jarring. Her wavy, blond hair was slipping across the pillow, shimmering with each chest compression. Her breasts bare to the world, their sexual power removed by a sea of telemetry wires, EKG stickers, defibrillator pads.
As I barked out orders, I was fixated on how I have this beautiful thing in my care, and I have destroyed it, like pulling the petals off a flower or rubbing the wings of a butterfly. And it's hard not to think about all the beauty I have destroyed: sisters and mothers, daughters, grandfathers, uncles, postmasters, waitresses, policemen, nurses, all kinds of beauty, ruined in my hands.
And I decided that she wouldn't die. I couldn't afford it.