I’ve been in the presence of the dying many and many of times. Each time I’ve never forgotten that person, and probably never will.
For example, a few years ago I was an aide on med/surg. My patient coded. I was the lucky person to be in the room when she coded. Just me, myself, the patient and her family. I felt like I was going to code with her. My heart dropped to my stomach and it felt like all the air had been sucked out of me. In a split second I ran to the code button and pressed it then felt for a pulse. Nothing. I released her bed to start compressions and doctors and nurses and respiratory staff all flooded in around us. The patient and I. Luckily I didn’t have to do CPR along before they took over and I was quickly pushed out of way.
Fast forward time to today, I work in a physicians office. Definitely not as exciting but we still get our moments. Today was a big one. A front office employee finds me in a panic, out of breath telling me I need to get out there and look at someone.
So I take off for the waiting room. When I get there I see a woman in a wheelchair slumped back groaning. I get close to where she can see me and ask, “Ma’am are you okay? Can you tell me your name?” She let out a loud groan and I decide that the waiting room isn’t where we need to be. We need to be in the emergency room NOW. I grab the wheelchair and take off towards the elevators praying they aren’t clogged up with patients slowing me down. I get stuck in the small elevator with kids. Great. Luckily we were on the main level in no time. I push her as fast as I can to the ER meanwhile doing sternum rubs to try and get a response. I know anytime I will need to stop and get her on the ground for CPR.
I made it to the ER and with moderate effort to get the nurses and doctors attention they were all flooding in around me while I started peeling her clothes off and attempted to transfer her to the bed. Questions come quick and I don’t have the answers. I tell them she was brought to me and I knew the doctors office would not be the place for her care. She needed lifelined. Sure enough I wasn’t needed anymore and I wondered back to my job.
When I arrived back to my office my nurse practitioner was flustered asking where I went. I told her, “running from the grim reaper.” She laughed but didn’t know I really wasn’t kidding.
The look in a persons eye when they are dying is so heartbreaking. She was in pain, and scared, and comatose all at once. I seen regret in her eyes, and I felt her pleading to make it through this spell. I was responsible for her. I made that split second decision to get her to where she could be taken care of. I did that, but she didn’t survive. She died after 4 revivals, and 63 minutes of CPR.
We found out later from family, that she had been complaining of chest pain for a week. She thought she had pneumonia. She didn’t know she could be having a hear attack or blood clot. She didn’t know that ignoring it would kill her. She didn’t know on the way to the doctor that she wasn’t going to walk out of the hospital.
Tomorrow is NEVER promised.