When the body enters into a decompensated state of shock, time begins to shut down a life that has been thriving for some years—one process at a time slowly and slowly until the first organ finally succumbs to asphyxiation.

The exhaustion of reserves and resources—the critical point breached—and accumulation of toxic essences fuel up a fatal momentum of consumption of hope and life. Some hours prior to the patient’s departure, the evidence of his suffering has resonated within the walls of his chest, the thin membranes of the bowels. What once has been a steadfastly galloping heart enters the marsh that muffles the sound of hooves and horses. Then the light begins to recede from the apertures of the eyes as the pupils grow irreversibly. Soon, breaths turn into sighs, and then into silent vapors that dissipate into nothingness.

These events transpire so quickly that it is often hard to mark times with absolute accuracy and remember the exact succession. The color of his pain has given his lips a duskier shade, his skin a reticulated carpet of ruddy islets in a sea of pallor—into a complex omen often described as mottling. And the lifeless form that remained splayed on the bloodied bed has become another corpse to tag, tally, and transfer out of my care.

Shock is certainly a fitting term to describe the suddenness and congruity of these phenomena. No road has been more devastating than the spiraling steady path to a slow death. What remained of that vivacity is an empty glassy look, which reflected on my face and in my wrists and fingers as they write this short testimony.


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