Wednesday, May 7, 2008


I held a man's hand the other day while he died.

It's not the first time I had seen someone die. It was the first time in a long time, though. And somehow it affected me more than any of the other times I had done it.

I held his hand as I watched life trickle out of his eyes.

I said a prayer for him and urged him to go to the light.

My first reaction was to save him. Resuscitate him. That's what brought me to him in the first place. I was in the middle of report at 7AM in the ICU. I was sitting near the telemetry monitors when suddenly this textbook example of Torsades comes through, setting off the alarms. Instead of calling the floor, I ran over to his room within seconds, calling to his nurse to join me. Checked for pulses: present, then gone. As we were fixing to put his bed down and start CPR, someone called out: "He's a DNR!!"

DNR: Do not resuscitate. Let me go in peace. Don't let me die with a thousand people at my bedside, banging on my chest, starting IV lines, jamming a tube down my throat. Let me die with dignity.

I held your hand, and said a prayer. Your nurse encouraged you to go in peace. Life slipped from you slowly, with a few agonal breaths. And I closed your eyes.

Incidentally, later on I found out this was the same person we coded weeks before in the ICU and successfully brought back. I was working that code, too.

My father is a DNR. And when it happens, I hope someone is there to hold his hand and urge him to go to the light....

I say a prayer and light a candle for your soul, sir. Because you and I came full circle. I won't forget you.

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