Blood slowly dripped from two linear slits on the left side of the man’s chest. He focused on the doctor with a wide eyed stare and spoke in an anxious whisper:
“Doc, don’t let me die… don’t let me die, doc.”
“We won’t let you die”.
The doctor looked up from the patient’s tattooed face to the stony-faced nurses and paramedics, then continued his assessment.
“Tell me what happened to you.”
“I fell on a knife.” he whispered.
The patient would say nothing more.
The doctor approached the paramedics as they collected their equipment and finished their notes. The taller, red-haired paramedic said:
“As we were driving away from the scene a woman chased after the ambulance waving a large kitchen knife. Just a hunch, but I suspect that she might have something to with this…”
More information came to light from the nurse-in-charge:
“This man isn’t allowed within 200m of the emergency department. He’s been here quite a few times before with a number of badly beaten women and has repeatedly threatened and intimidated the staff.”
The patient didn’t look quite so menacing now – despite the crew cut, the gold teeth, the gang patch and leathers, the missing finger, the tattoos and the countless scars.
The police were standing outside as a nurse left the trauma room.
“Is he going to make it?”
“Looks like it.”
“That is a shame.”
The patient was plumbed with lines and remained stable, so he was taken for a CT scan. Apart from a small amount of blood and air around his left lung, his only serious injury was a difficult-to-spot knife wound to his diaphragm. The lower stab wound had missed his heart by less than a centimetre. He went to theatre to repair the diaphragmatic rupture and to look for other internal injuries. His recovery was uneventful, with the exception of the incident in the intensive care unit.
A woman, sunglasses partially concealing the bruise around her left eye, came to pay him a visit. Soon after she arrived, somehow, despite having been securely sutured in place, the patient’s chest drain mysteriously ‘fell’ out.