Tag: death and dying

Saying the D-Word

It was late in the evening, and I was ready to start my night shift as an intern in the intensive-care unit. I sought out my fellow intern, who was finishing his shift, so that we could perform signout–the ritual of passing the patients’ information from one clinician to the next.
“Mrs. Klein in Bed 15 might go,” he whispered.
“Go? Go where?” I asked. “It’s 10 o’clock at night.”
“I mean she might go

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That Is All

Scott Wilson ~

God,

Take her breath, still her heart, and
clean her body out with a spoon.
Wring her spirit in the river and
place her eyes beside the moon.

Fold up her memories in a dresser and
frame her smile in the sky.
Turn up her laughter in the darkness and
let her freckles start to fly.

Smoke her love

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Top of the Hill

Erika Walker ~

“It’s as if you’re at the top of a hill,”
the doctor said. My father listened
from his hospital bed, a plastic tube

fed him breath he could no longer take
for himself. “Each time you get sick,”
the doctor said, “you roll a little farther

down the hill.” His young face shone
above his white coat. I remember rolling
down green

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The Morning After You Died

Dianne Avey ~

So this is what it feels like
to be on the other side.
Hollowed out exhaustion,
rimmed with the chaotic clutter
of struggle and hope.
Like the beach after a tsunami,
all those once-important items,
now floating around uselessly.

I don’t know how to start this life
again.

This morning, they came
and took the bed away.

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Late-Night Calls

 

Many things frighten me–from creepy-crawlers to turbulence on airplanes, from intravenous needles to walking across bridges over menacing rivers. However, late-night phone calls, especially from my family, send shivers up and down my spine. That is why I froze with fear when I received a call from my parents at 11 p.m. on February 28, 1986.

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Simple Acts

Dianne Avey ~

One night on my nursing shift in the cardiac intensive-care unit, I received a new patient from the operating room: an eighty-eight-year-old woman who had suffered a major heart attack and had just undergone emergency coronary-artery bypass surgery.

Her bed was wheeled into the room along with the usual accoutrements: six different IV drips, a ventilator, an aortic balloon pump and various other lines and monitoring devices. Her name, I

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Who Would Want to Do This?

Kristin Beard ~

“Get the patient on the monitor.”

“How long has he been down? Someone get on the chest!”

“Keep ventilating. He’s in v-fib. Defibrillate at 200.”

“Charging, everybody clear?…Shock delivered.”

“Resume compressions. Push one of epinephrine…Hold compressions. What rhythm is he in?”

“He’s asystole, resume compressions.”

We repeat the process a hundred times over. The medic said they started coding the patient an hour ago. The

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25 Minutes

Pager rings. Just 5 minutes to get to the ED. Calling down as I rush to the trauma elevators, they tell me over the phone “Shots fired at a hotel in downtown Los Angeles.” I know that place…

At least 3 people arriving. The ED is bustling, preparing for their arrival. Blade and Prolene stitch in my scrub pocket, I am ready. We are ready.

For a moment the ED almost seems silent.

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Matching Rings

Joy Liu

The room is stuffy, but the woman is shivering.

Her husband stands by her bedside. An interpreter that they’ve hired to stay with her day and night stands at the foot of the bed. And then there’s me, the doctor (I’m an intern), waiting to deliver one of many sad speeches I must give today.

Smiling wanly, she struggles into a sitting position and shakes my hand.

Even with

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The Last Heartbeat

Cortney Davis

The minutes dragged. She worked at it–
sweat pooling in her frown, her lungs

bellowed in and out as if the air were oil.
Her expression never changed.

Beneath the light,
my mother’s skin looked violet.

I squeezed her hand,
pressed her fingertips, stroked the branching veins,

but…nothing. And so, good nurse,
I held her wrist between my fingertips and counted

one, two,

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A May-December Friendship

Hanan Rimawi

Ms. Connie was known, to her delight, as the Jackie Kennedy of Our Sanctuary nursing home. A tall, eighty-something woman who tucked splashy flowers into her voluminous curls, she’d strike up a conversation with anyone she encountered.

These chats were never a half-hearted “How are you?” tossed off before zipping away in her wheelchair. She’d ask an aide if her ailing daughter was feeling better, or check whether the receptionist’s son

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