"What treatment in an emergency is administered by ear?"
"Words of comfort."
Cutting For Stone, Abraham Verghese
The Sound of Struggle
I can hear her from the doorway. It's the sound of thick sputum circling in place, of pooling saliva and mucous that can only be cleared with suctioning. "Cough it up," I say. A stroke, dysphagia, respiratory failure, her cough is weak; so weak that I don't fear she'll expel a loogie onto my face or clothing. Despite the gunk lining her trachea and oozing out of her tracheostomy, her oxygen saturation remains in the high nineties. I once dreaded suctioning patients, but now I dread the sound of an un-suctioned patient. It's harsh on the ears - dirty, rough, static that can't smooth itself out, a raucous kkkksssshhkk.Read More