Monday, December 30, 2013

A Hospice Story

I just came across a piece of paper on which an old patient wrote, "Can I please have something for pain?" in a shaky hand. It took me back.

 Less than 30 minutes after bringing him the medication he got a surprised look on his face which turned to fear which gave way to a peaceful expression and then he just stared at me while I stood at his bedside. Knowing he was nearly gone I told him I was sorry, that he'd be OK, that I wouldn't leave, that I was glad we spent the time together we had and that I would always think of him as a friend. He held my hand tight. A tear rolled out of his eye as he arched his neck, then with a full body convulsion blood began pouring out of his mouth- gushing actually like nothing I'd ever seen. Urine began shooting up from his body against the wall while I was trying to support his neck to maintain his airway and hold his hand and talk him through his last moments on earth while trying to look as calm and compassionate as possible.

 He gave out a moan then stopped moving. The light went out in his eyes and the color quickly washed from his body. I released his hand and slumped down in the same chair I had watched football from with him just the night before and put my head in my hands.

 Earlier that same night the staff nurses were still flirting with him to keep his spirits up. I was flirting with them and he was daring me to ask one of them out by scrawling notes out in my notebook. Later I showed him a phone number written in girlie handwriting with a heart to dot the i in her name and a smiley face to the side of the number. He mouthed, Whoa! and Wow! I made him laugh until he was breathless and I would have to turn his oxygen up and put a breathing treatment on him. Then we'd laugh at how ridiculous the situation was.

 I think I then breathed for the first time since the incident started. I remember the sound of a cheap clock ticking above and behind me on the wall while watching that tear roll down his cheek, touch his ear lobe then roll down his neck.

 He was 52 years old and I really was the closest thing to a friend he had left in this world.

I'll never forget him.

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