Not only is Jeremy Statton one my best blogging buddies, he’s also the busiest person I know. As an orthopedic surgeon, Jeremy works ten or more hours a day. Then, he goes home to his wife and four kids. On top of that, he somehow manages to find time to write on his excellent blog, jeremystatton.com. If you’re not already subscribed to it, you should be. You can also follow him on Twitter and Facebook. I’m sure you’re going to get a lot from his post today.
When they brought the man in he was already unconscious. One man had him by the shoulders and the other by the legs. They could barely hold him up. He offered no help, his body slack from the poison that coursed through his veins.
The two men carrying him placed him on the one empty bed in the infirmary, and they left. They didn’t know him at all, and only noticed him after he collapsed while working in the same field that day.
This man would go nameless as he marched down the loneliest road of life.
His body had started to convulse when the poison reached his brain causing it to seize. He was foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog, but without the anger and aggressiveness.
His breathing had begun to slow down. Initially every breath was deep as if his body could not get enough of the life preserving oxygen it so desperately needed. But with time the deep gulps of air became more shallow. Breathing turned into rattling. The announcement of death approaching.
Despite the loudness of people panicking and rushing around looking desperately for a solution that didn’t exist, the pause between each breath was like a deafening silence, lasting for what seemed like an eternity and asking one single question. Will this be the last one?
I stood there with a stethoscope in my hand and a head full of medical knowledge, but I knew none of this mattered. At this point knowledge was only theoretical. The stuff of books. He would need a miracle that would not come.
Years of school. Countless hours of training. I was the only doctor standing in the room, but there was nothing I could do but stand there and watch him die.
Inspiration from Life
Our stories are best told using the experience of life.
It is important to do our work on a daily basis. We have to lock ourselves away from the rest of the world, keeping out the distractions and Resistance that would come otherwise.
But one of the best things we can do for our writing is to live. If we pursue lives that are full of stories, then our stories will be full of life.
This story is based on a true experience I had on a medical mission to Uganda last year. It’s a sad story, but it was real. And describing death has changed for me now that I have seen it.
I hope you can sense the hopelessness I felt as I watched. I hope that you feel the finality of what was taking place.
I know I can’t get the scene out of my mind.
Living Better Stories
This memory is only possible because I chose to expand the story I am telling with my life. I made a decision to travel to Africa to help provide medical care to those without access.
My trip to Uganda was one of the most rewarding and most difficult experiences I have encountered. My mind is still trying to process everything I saw and heard.
Prosperity and poverty. Happiness and fear. Life and death.
Choose a better life for yourself, one of risk, overcoming obstacles, battling your fear, facing your self doubt, and your writing will be better for it.
Think back to one of the most memorable experiences of your life. A moment that you cannot forget. Maybe it was a positive experience. The best birthday party ever. the best date in your life.
Maybe it was a time of sadness and death.
Relive these stories in your imagination. Remember how you felt. Remember what you saw, not as it was, but how your brain viewed it as tried to process that moment. Describes what you heard or what you didn’t hear. Recall the smell of the room.
Now spend the next fifteen minutes writing about that story.
You can share in the comments.