27 June 2013

The happy side of death?

Disclaimer: last night I wrote this post, and finally worked up the courage to click "publish" at 2am. First thing this morning I reverted it back to a draft. I didn't want to hurt anyone whose wounds are still fresh from having recently lost a loved one, or seem like I'm pushing my beliefs on people. Religion and death are pretty touchy subjects, but this blog is my personal forum for thoughts both shallow and deep, and I think it would defeat the purpose of having a blog if I didn't share the story.
At the risk of sounding insensitive, I have to tell about the positive experience I had today
...and yes, death was involved.

An hour and ten minutes into my shift today, I heard a code blue called...on my floor! That hasn't happened since I switched hospitals. Everyone swarmed into the room of the patient in cardiac arrest, but all of my fellow nurse techs were hesitant to enter...I think they have this mind block where they think they can't help because they aren't doctors or registered nurses. However, I know full well that the person in the bed NEEDS people who aren't doctors or nurses to do the "little stuff", so other people can take care of the "big stuff". Just about anyone can do chest compressions, but it is very hard work, so there has to be plenty of substitutes. I walk right on in to the chaos, and I tell my coworker "Hey, let me know when you get tired" and I just wait behind her while she finishes compressions. When it was my turn, I was surprised to find that it seemed much easier than the last time I did compressions. The heart monitor is showing that my compressions are steady, deep enough, etc. Then I look into the patient's face. Nothing. Thirteen hours ago, this patient came up to the floor from the ER and I was assuring them that I was almost done while another coworker and I tried to make them comfortable for the night. Now, that same face was just empty. I stopped my compressions for a moment while they shocked the patient, and waited to see if the heart kicked in. It didn't. Another coworker took over compressions for me, but no the other substitutes were needed. This patient was gone.

I believe that people go to a better place when they leave this life. I really truly believe that. Unfortunately, that doesn't make the pain of losing someone any better. I think this is a form of selfish grief, because I'm not sad for the person who is gone, I'm sad for me. Now I  have to keep on going without them, and I  won't be able to see this person that I  love so dearly for a very long time. When this particular patient died, however, I was relieved! During compressions I felt nothing, then afterward I felt relief. Shouldn't mourning be in here somewhere? I started to feel guilty that I wasn't more sad, but then I thought about it. I came to the conclusion that dying is a happy thing when you are in crippling pain, and your body has tried to quit twice in the last month only to be resuscitated back into the harsh reality where you can't feed or clean yourself. Since I had no personal emotional connection to this person, I guess I was able to see that more clearly, and all I felt was relief. If I ever see that person in the next life, I think we'll both smile at each other and I'll say "Hey, no hard feelings about that bruise you gave me on the palm of my hand. I'm glad to see you're not suffering anymore."



Jen Blackman said...

Hey Laynah. I love your name, I wish I had a more awesome name than Jenny, but I digress.
I just wanted to leave a comment to tell you how much I love your blog. I just found it today and I'm following you on bloglovin' now!
I'm hoping to get accepted to general nursing soon. How is it working in a hospital? ( I know you're a nursing assistant, but I thought you'd know)and I'm also currently wrangling curly hair too - what's your curl type?

Whitney M. said...

I have yet to ever lose a patient and I have only ever witnessed one code and honestly it was kind of a shocker. I had no idea how rough CPR really was. I do think you are right though. The patient is done suffering and the place they are going is far better than the place they left!


Brooke said...

That's exactly how I feel, too. I'm sure the patient is grateful for the work you did to keep him alive, and that you were ready and relieved at his departing. Great post, Laynah.

Courtney B said...

Don't feel guilty for feeling relief! I believe it totally depends on the stage in life when some one dies. When they die too young it is easy to feel anger and heart break over losing them. But last week my great grandma passed away at 90 years old and I definitely felt relief. She was so ready to be reunited with my grandpa!
It's interesting though, my best friend lost her husband at 21. Her husband was 23. Of course we all felt anger, sadness and every negative emotion you can imagine. But she viewed the spot that he died as a very sacred place because it's where his spirit left his body. I never thought of it that way but it IS so sacred! Birth and death are both miracles. One just happens to bring so much more joy to our mortal life than the other :)

Ashley R said...

I am glad you shared this. I really like your perspective and insights and I am glad I got to read through them! <3

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