Monday, July 07, 2008


Three people died on my floor this weekend. I took care of all of them.

One was even yellower than yellow man. He was mustard colored. His liver stopped working completely. And his fingertips were black and hard - necrotic tissue. And they smelled awful. He was unresponsive, but was breathing through a trach on his own. His family took him off curative cares. It's called comfort cares. And he lived for five or six days after that. They had begun to wonder if they had made the right choice. He died on his wife's birthday just after my shift was over and before my next one started.

The other man was one I talked about before - the sickest man I ever met. You know, if you're in the medical field, you hear people say, "I could just tell when I saw him; it was cancer." or "I knew he wasn't going to make it. He had that look about him."

I get it now.

He made it home before he died. That was what they all wanted.

I didn't get attached to the other lady. It's a good thing, too, because hers was the first and only body I saw dead. I was in the room when she died. She was on comfort cares, too, but her family wasn't around when she died. They had gone out to eat. And didn't come back for a few hours after her death and didn't answer their phones. She had been seizing all day long, the nurses think. Her eyes were rolling back and forth, back and forth, slowly, slowly, all day long. She appeared to be in a lot of pain. And we went to clean her up, and it all happened so fast. Body processes I won't tell you about. I was amazed at the nurses I was working with. They were incredible. It happened at six pm, just before my shift's end at 7:30.

That morning, I had been teary-eyed. Everything I was doing was making me cry. So I took a minute. I thought that's all it would take, but when I got in the bathroom, I couldn't stop crying. I was beyond the point where I could wash my face and look normal. So this girl opened the bathroom door - she didn't know I was in there. And she was totally cool with the fact that I was crying so hard that I was hiccuping. And we talked about death. Cause she's a nursing aid on that floor. Has been for like...three years or something. And I was a little more composed until I went in the room of mustard man with my preceptor to clean him up. And we talked about death more. Death process. Death paperwork. Family coping. Personal coping. Still wanting to come to work, even though there are hard things. And how getting through this and coping with this job says a lot about a person. "If you can do this, you can do anything," she said.

I'm okay, really. Yeah, I think I'm okay.

PS: Sushi fell through.

No comments: