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Tag: end of life

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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What’s Wrong, Dad ?

 
When I walked into my father’s hospital room, he began to sob. I didn’t cope well with his tears. I experienced them as a reaction to his seeing me and started to beat myself up, to think to myself, What have I done?

A voice at the back of my mind said, This is his illness–you can’t take it personally. But even so, I felt hurt by his crying.

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Learning the Meaning of Care

 

I was nervous. I had never been this close to someone who was about to die. I introduced myself, but the patient was non-responsive. I told her that I was going to sit with her and that I would stay for a few hours. As I sat down, I noticed her breathing–it was irregular, and each breath sounded like she was slowly and painfully drowning. Almost trying to distract myself

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Heart and Soul

Fredy El Sakr

“Help!” I yelled out of our open apartment door.

I was seven years old, and my family had recently emigrated from Egypt to the US. We’d been feeling elated that week because, after months of interviews, my father had matched into a pediatric residency.

That morning he’d awakened feeling nauseated. My mother and sister went to buy some soothing food. I noticed that he’d vomited in the bathroom; now he

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The Lady Behind the Curtain

Scott Janssen

“Why don’t you talk loud enough for the whole damn hospital to hear you?”

I’ve just greeted my eighty-four-year-old grandmother, and now this irascible voice has erupted from behind the curtain that separates us from whoever is sharing Grandma’s room.

The nursing assistant who showed me in glares across the curtain at the other inhabitant.

“You shut up,” she tells the person firmly, “or I’ll smack you with a

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The Center of Everything

The call came at midnight. “He died,” the voice on the other end said. No emotion.

“How are you, Alice?” I asked.

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Family Summons

Amy Cowan

Startled out of sleep, I reflexively reach for my beeping pager. For a split second, I lie poised between wakefulness and terror in the pitch-dark resident call room, not sure where I am or what happened. I resolve to sleep with the lights on from now on.

I dial the call-back number.

“Pod A,” a caffeinated voice chirps. It’s Candice, one of the nurses.

“Hi. Amy here, returning a

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Knowing When to Let Go

 
I will never forget being told that my mother’s treatment options were pretty much over. A COPD/atrial fibrillation sufferer, she had been intubated and spent time in the ICU, then rehab and then home for a few days. She was very vehement about not wanting to spend life on a ventilator. And she documented this in a living will.
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At Day’s End

Marc Tumerman

This is a story of two deaths. That these patients’ stories intersected on the same morning, in the same building, in two adjacent rooms, has left me thinking about them now that the day is almost done.

I was surprised to see Mrs. Stevens’ name on my schedule today. She came to the office last week, and I felt sure that she’d be too weak for another visit. But I was glad

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Battlefield

Pris Campbell

His heart
is a battlefield
of scar tissue
and hardened walls
from radiation.
So certain the tumor
in his throat would take him
to his knees, wrench his life away,
they brought forth
the beast…that fairy tale
of modern medicine
gone wrong…and now

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Deathbed Epiphany

Christina Johnson

As a family-practice resident, I’ve found that a premium is placed not only on my clinical acumen but also on how well I respond to my patients’ mental and emotional experience of illness.

Yet the work of learning to be a doctor is just that–work. And in overwhelming amounts. Time management becomes ever more vital: As I take the time needed to gently break bad news and to console a patient,

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When the Phone Rings at Night

“I’m at the hospital,” my mother said.”Talk to the neurosurgeon.”
The ringing phone had roused me out of a deep sleep. Already, my heart was racing, and I was wide awake as the doctor began to speak.
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