There was blackness all around me and voices, many voices,
murmuring softly and blending together⎯one steady buzzing
sound as you might hear in a crowded theater while waiting for a show to begin.
A steady beeping, actually several steady beepings,
penetrated the murmuring, some nearby and some farther away. Occasionally there was a clatter of metal, like tin plates being hit against one another. Something moved by on wheels in dire need of lubrication. Squeak...squeak...squeak.
The air was cool, almost chilly. It wasn't cold or particularly
uncomfortable, yet I felt that the air should be clearing my head enough for my sight to return. I felt something cool and wet dab at my forehead.
There was an odor of rubber and plastic and... something
antiseptic. The odor was familiar; I knew that I had been here
before. I began to get vaguely angry with myself. I knew where I was, dammit, why couldn't I supply a name to go with this
strange, dark place?
What was wrong with my eyes? Why couldn't I see? I felt as
if they should work. I felt that I knew the picture that explained the incessant din that seemed to be coming from within my head. Though I was sure that it was not inside my head, or was I? What twist of fate had caused me to arrive in this fuzzy, confused, unexplained state?
I began to take stock of what I could discern. I was lying on
something hard and cold and I wasn't sure why, but I felt that I
was elevated above the ground. How far above it I didn't know.
Was I just floating in midair? Or was I on some sort of petrified
magic carpet on some other planet? I didn't know, and I was
starting to feel agitated because of it. I felt the cool dampness
touch my forehead once again. It felt good and I clung to the
feeling, reaching out with my mind as best I could, hoping that
the answers would follow.
"Jay, Jay are you with us ?" The soft, feminine voice was
familiar. I had heard it before, but where?
"Come back to us, Jay, come on." The voice had taken on a
mild urgency, and it made me more desperate to know what was happening. I felt the coolness on my forehead again as the voice continued to plead with me. I tried to speak to the voice, tried to open some line of communication, but my mouth did not seem to work any better than my eyes. I continued to float in this void, this nonexistence that flowed through and around me in a sort of continuous circle.
The voice was now joined by a second voice. The second
voice was male but carried the same sense of barely suppressed concern. "Any reaction yet?"
"No, he's still unresponsive."
"That was quite a hit he took. Do you know what it was set
"Three hundred, sixty joules."
"Three sixty! He's lucky to be alive."
Well at least I was alive. That was good news. But what had
happened to me? The female voice had said three hundred, sixty joules... and then, from the depths of my brain, burned into my memory, I saw the spark. Spark really wasn't accurate; it was more like a fireball. Brilliant orange, completely unexpected, and then... dark. Suddenly I knew where I was! The emergency room! The female voice belonged to a pretty young nurse named Debbie Farrell, and the male voice belonged to an ER doctor named Craig Scott.
The ER! How many hours had I spent there putting the
machines through their paces, hooking them up to my various
pieces of test equipment and making them beep their little
electronic hearts out? I felt like a drowning man that had been
thrown a life preserver. My slow, groggy brain began to piece
together the events that had brought me here.
I had been in one of the medical−surgical units inspecting a
defibrillator that must have had a bad paddle cable. So that was what it was like being 'defibbed.' One of my worst nightmares had suddenly been realized!
I heard Dr. Scott again, "How does his ECG look?"
"Stable now." "Any sign of V-tach?" Oh god, I thought. V-tach was short
for ventricular tachycardia, a rapid ventricular beat, a state the heart can enter just before ventricular fibrillation when it stops pumping effectively, and the only way to deal with fibrillation was with a defibrillator. There was no way that I was going to get zapped again if I could help it.
I decided that it was time to try harder to respond. I tried to
open my eyes, to no avail. They felt as if they had been taped
shut. I tried to move my arms, but they felt as if they had been
weighted down with lead. I tried to speak, but my mouth felt as if it was filled with cement. Jay, I said to myself, if you don't do something soon they may use a defib on you. I had worked on enough of these machines to know how they functioned. I knew them inside and out, and I also knew that I wanted no more close encounters with them from this perspective. After all, once was enough. With Herculean effort I attempted to scream. All that managed to escape my parched lips was a moan, but it was enough, because I heard Debbie's voice again.
"Dr. Scott, he's coming around!"
I felt a finger gently prying my eyelid open, and then a beam
of brilliant light assaulted my blurred vision. It seemed to burn
right through my brain to the back of my skull. That eyelid was
released and then the other one was opened and the light came again. Oh, please leave me alone and let me just lie here, I thought.