For those of you who don’t know, I’m a nurse.
I graduated nursing school when I was pregnant with my youngest and have worked on call the past three years.
Last week I worked a night shift, and one of my patients who had been there for rehabilitation had apparently had a decline and his doctor was going to discuss placing him on hospice with him and his family at a doctors appointment the next day.
I was told in report he had become increasingly lethargic that day.
So I went in to introduce myself and assess him.
I was concerned because he wasn’t voiding, so I sat with him and encouraged fluids. His vitals were concerning a little, because his blood pressure was low and so was his oxygen, 88% on 5 Liters.
But he was alert, and denied any pain or discomfort.
He complied with what I told him, was verbalizing with me, and by about 2am I was thinking that he was going to be okay through the night. Every sign showed that he was as ‘stable’ as he was going to be.
I went in there once again to check on him and encourage his fluid intake.
I told him to try and get some rest and to not forget to call me with his call light if he needed anything, and that I would be back to check on him again later. He smiled a little and said “Okay.”
I went back to work, making rounds on the other patients.
I peeked my head in the room at 3:15.
Panic set in.
I knew he was gone, but I didn’t want to believe it.
I raced to the nurses station to grab my stethoscope and call his daughter.
I woke her up and told her to come in as quick as she could; her dad was about to go.
I ran back to confirm. No audible heart beat. No palpable pulse. I pronounced him dead at 3:25am.
I quickly called his daughter back.
My voice was shaking, as I told her I was so sorry, but she was too late. He had already died.
She burst into tears. She asked me what to do. I told her everything was completely up to her, though I encouraged her to come in still if she wanted to. She did.
Her husband drove her in and they paid their last respects to her father; the man I had only met 5 hours ago. She asked me about the events leading up to his death, and she seemed comforted with the fact that it happened so quickly, and that he was not in pain. She thanked me and the rest of the staff, was so happy with his care.
She hugged me.
I made arrangements with the funeral home to pick up his body, and at 5:15 am I helped them bag it up and load it onto the stretcher.
I met this man five hours ago.
Having worked in the health care field for 10 years, dealing with people passing away is nothing new. I have pronounced people before.
But I have never had to make the call to next of kin.
It never happened so sudden, albeit expected.
I was the last person he ever spoke too. I don’t know what made this time so much more different. Why I can’t get his image out of my head. But it is. Perhaps telling the story will give me a little closure.
I’ve said it before on here, and I’ll say it again. Life if finite. Live it. Don’t let it pass you by. <3