It is the only way by which people should be judged." Oscar Wilde
My brother in law passed away several days ago. He was 57 years young. He was in the hospital for 70 days and those 70 days were a roller coaster ride. He told a friend who visited him during the first few days, before modern medicine took hold of him and ....well, when he was still coherent that he was dying. I felt very strongly at the beginning that he would survive, get better and resume his life.
But, it did not work out according to plan. He was too ill, past saving and if he has survived, I am certain would have been a semi-invalid at best. He is my husbands brother. We visited him the day before Fathers Day and for the first time in nearly six weeks he was not in a coma like state and actually communicated with us despite his trac with facial expressions and a raspy hoarse whisper. Except for closing his eyes to rest, he never took his eyes off my husband. They were to move him to a room on another floor (he had been in the ICU units for most the duration except for a brief stay at a rehabilitation hospital, but he suffered another set back and returned to the ICU unit) and that seemed encouraging.
Then he took a turn for the worst and because of a living will at 730 Monday night they took him off life support.
No one knew how long. A few hours, a few days. My husband drove the 400 miles from Memphis in record breaking time. He arrived in time.
The heart rate was very elevated. It was explained that the heart was in over drive compensating for the decreased intake of oxygen. Around 1am (I'm guessing, time was a blur) his heart rate plummeted. I was alone in the room with him, holding his hand and rubbing his arm because I am certain when we are in this state of leaving this plane and preparing to enter another, we are aware of those around us, when the nurse entered the room. She began to take off the many tubes still connecting him. Morphine drip and the such. She deflated the pressure bags on his legs. I have little understanding of medicine, but I suppose it was helping to keep his blood circulating.
She told me he was nearing the end and it would not be long.
Then they decided to move him out of ICU because they needed the cubicle/room and we were being transferred to a larger and much more comfortable room on another floor.
The transfer was horrendous. The bed from ICU would not go through the smaller entry door and they tried every which way to get him in, finally shuffling us off into a room and closing the door while they moved him into a smaller bed.
Several minutes later they took us into the room and one look at him we knew he was gone. He had two more heart beats over several minutes and then he left us.
A doctor has to sign the death certificate. We waited for 45 minutes for his arrival. He looked to be 16 years old. He stood over the bed and asked us, "Do you understand what has happened?"
We were stunned. What do you say? How do you answer such a question?
I don't know why I decided to write about this here in this public forum. I have dealt with medical facilities, doctors and hospital staff for many years now. The majority are dedicated caregivers who are answering a special calling to aid our sick and dying.
Yet, sometimes you wonder about it all. The bigger picture.
When Doogie Howser was paged from the room several moments later we all looked at each other and shook our heads.
"I wanted to say, "Doc I don't understand why he won't get up!", his son blurted out and we had a much need snicker about that.
"He went fast" my SIL said.
"Who? that doctor, he was kinda young wasn't he?" my husband responded and then we all snorted. It had been a long night.
We loved him very much.