Starting the day with a death is no way to start the day…
So my job can be difficult, there’s no big surprise there. I can handle death and the dying patient. What I find so hard is to watch a family member walk out of the building knowing they won’t ever see their loved one alive again. It breaks my heart every time.
I know death is a part of life but it doesn’t make it any easier. And what do you say to someone who just lost a husband, wife, child or grandparent? I’m sorry you’re a widow? Your child is in a better place? Your grandma was old, so nature took it’s course? (I’d seriously never say that last one, btw.)
Another pet peeve of mine is how no one knows when to say when. Example: Terri Schaivo. Now while I’m sure it was the HARDEST decision Michael ever had to make, he made the right decision by placing a DNR on her chart. It didn’t mean she was going to die right then and there, it just took away all supportive means of survival, ie. feeding tubes, CPR, IV fluids and such. Nothing wrong with that. If I was a vegetable, you damn well better believe I’ll have DNR tattooed on my forehead.
Now, I don’t understand where all these advocacy groups have the right to come in from nowhere and interfere. I understand her parents were a huge part of the case, petitioning that she was ‘still conscious,’ but really? Really? What possible good is happening for her by being alive? How do we know if she could feel pain? Worse, what if she knew what was going on. (My hugest fear: being trapped in my own body.) Why would we prolong the torture? If not for Terri, for the family. To have that closure. *sigh*
I’m a firm believer in hospice care. I believe it’s the kindest, gentlest way to pass. Some of us nurses joke that when we’re close to death we want a bed, a foley catheter and a morphine drip. I’m one of them. And I’m not joking.
So where is this coming from? I started my day off with a pulse check and a crying wife. And that wasn’t the hard part. It was watching her talk to the charge nurse about funeral homes and then watching her walk down our long hallway with her son, trusting that we will take good care of his body until the funeral home picks him up.
How do you walk away? That has to be the hardest thing she’s ever had to deal with, and hopefully the last. I’ll be thinking about her tonight.