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Monday, May 27, 2013

A Refreshing Moment

Had a gentleman come to us from home recently who was, basically, a vegetable.

There was no quality of life.  He could communicate a little and was breathing on his own, but couldn't feed himself (had a PEG tube), bathe himself, get out of bed, or even move (really bad contractures).  The family had a nurse that was at the house most of the time to take care of him.  The rest of the time, the family did it.

The family wasn't home when the man started having severe chest pain, so the nurse called EMS.  He got to us and turned out out to be having a STEMI.  The family had been called (including the daughter with medical power of attorney) and arrived at the same time as the ambulance.

As we started our STEMI procedures, the man sort of whispered to one of the nurses, "Please. . . no."  The nurse had me come over and we asked him to repeat what he said.  Again, "Please. . . no. . . stop." The daughter with POA was brought in and witnessed her father say, again, "No. . . please. . . just stop."

Tears began to roll down her face and she said, shakily, "Ok, Daddy.  We'll let you rest now.  I love you."

She left the room momentarily, giving us a chance to clean up the room and set up chairs bedside for the rest of the family.  She returned shortly with the other family members.  The dying gentleman continued to receive comfort measures for pain, nausea, etc.

It took some time, but the family was able to be there with their loved one, holding his hand, giving him their love.  How refreshing to see a family that didn't want to continue torture on a poor old man who had lived his life, had no quality of life now, and was ready to go.  How refreshing to see a family honor the wishes of a dying man rather than prolong his suffering in order to selfishly delay their own grief.

In my not-so-humble opinion, this family did it right.


  1. My recently departed mom, God bless her, made herself a DNR over a decade before she passed, with full forethought, after working both as an LVN and a volunteer in the hospital for a decade after she retired. And she made triply sure that each one of us, her sons, had full copies of the relevant paperwork.

    Those wishes were honored.

    It's the only way to do it. Would that more families had that discussion before our ER crew ends up cracking ribs in a full code on someone whose family desperately clings to them long after they live the merest husk of a life.