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Tag: end of life

Fighting the Odds

Evelyn Lai ~

Monday

I walk into your room in the pediatric intensive-care unit as two nurses are repositioning you. Your parents stand nearby–your dad in his frayed baseball cap and khaki cargo shorts; your mom, her baggy jeans wrinkled with the same worry as the lines near her eyes. Your little sister sits near the window with a blue hospital mask over her mouth, hugging her knees; Grandma sits snug beside her, back

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Lean on Me

Joseph Fennelly ~

One morning in my office, a tall, slim package arrives along with a note, a portion of which follows:


Dr. Fennelly,

I can’t apologize enough for not getting your walking stick back sooner. Since my dad’s passing we have had to move my mother (who has a memory problem) several times, and with each move the walking stick moved too.



In some ways it reminded me of my dad

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My First Code

Jessica Greenberg ~

“Code Blue, Interventional Radiology suite,” blare the overhead speakers.

I am a new third-year medical student, doing my first rotation in internal medicine at Yale New Haven Hospital. This morning, I’ve been rounding on patients with my medical team.

The alarm sends us lumbering down the halls, struggling to keep our clogs from falling off our feet, clutching our white jackets to our chests to keep the pockets full of

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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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A Day Out From the Nursing Home

John Grey ~

Your bones tremble.
Freedom no longer suits you.
Warm sun on skin feels wasted.
The smell of pine…
where’s that old familiar ether?
So many active people on the sidewalk,
behind the wheels of cars.
Who have they come to visit?

Your daughter grabs your hand,
tries to pull you back into your old life,
but it’s no longer known in

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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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Reverse Burnout

 
I have a long commute to the hospital where I work. I’ve been doing this for a long time and have thought about retirement. So when I’m stuck on the turnpike in morning rush-hour traffic, when it takes me 60 to 90 minutes to get in to work, I often say to myslf, “Why am I doing this? Why not just quit, retire and enjoy life at home? I don’t need this aggravation.”
 
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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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Weary and Wishful

 
I was living just two blocks away from my parents, but I spent more time at their condo than I did at my apartment. I shopped for them and cooked, cleaned, and did laundry for them. I took them to appointments. I tried to help them lead lives of quality. Every night I went home feeling tired–after all, I was in my sixties–but also feeling glad that I could support them after all the

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The Home

Nolan Snider

People say it’s the last place
They want to go.
But when push comes to shove,
It’s the next-to-the-last place.
Although there are some who are
Ready to move on to that last place.
Others stay as long as they can in this,
The last place they thought
They would ever want to go.
Clinging on, year after year,
Staying here to

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The First Time

 
Walking with my mother through a recent time of ill health was unlike the countless times I had supported individuals and families through their own times of grief and loss. As a spiritual health practitioner (aka hospital chaplain) at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, on an island near Vancouver, I found the setting and the situation very familiar. But the emotions were anything but.
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