Thursday, January 12, 2012

This is Not a Happy Story

No pictures.  No gimmicks.  This time it's just a story and as you can probably tell from the title it's not a very happy one, but it does have a purpose.  I'm asked questions about my job all the time.  For anyone that doesn't know, i'm an RN and I work in a medical ICU down here on the coast.  People always want me to tell them crazy ICU stories.  "Kyle, what's the craziest thing you've seen?" "It's wild in there right?"  "Is it like Grey's Anatomy?"  These are all questions i've fielded pretty easily.  I am asked a lot if I like my job as well.  The answer to that is an overwhelming yes.  I get to meet a lot of great people and I like to think I have some effect on their life even if for only a short time.  

I came into work this past Saturday night like I always do.  I look at my assignment, get report, and go to work.  The unit was really sick this weekend.  We have varying degrees of intensity in there.  Sometimes it just seems like everyone is basically ready to be transferred out and the whole house is one cruise control.  Other nights it really seems like the majority of the patients are extremely critical.  This story isn't about one of my patients, just one that was in the unit and not really about the patient at all.

This man was young by most standards.  He was only 48, but had a long history of bad heart problems.  Looking at him he looked healthy enough, but that wasn't the case at all.  By the time I had come in that night the family had already made the decision that they didn't want to resuscitate him if his heart finally gave out.  He was living his last few hours of life.  His son was there early on.  He was only 19.  He had been taking care of his dad and his grandparents for some time now.  About 3 o'clock Sunday morning we started seeing all the changes that indicated to us that the time was drawing near.  We got the doctors on the phone and started trying to call the son.  We called and called and called, but no answer.  We never got in touch with the son before the patient passed.  A few minutes later the son was standing at the door.  He had been asleep in the waiting room the entire time.

When I overheard that he had been in the waiting room the whole time, my heart sank.  He was so close and could've been with his dad when it happened.  That fact just hurt me.  He asked for a few minutes to gain his thoughts before he came in.   When he finally came in he just stood at the bedside starring at his father.  He never shed a tear.  Never made a noise.  He just stood there in silence.  I recognized the look on his face.  It was the face of utter loss.  He didn't even know how to react at that moment, so there was no reaction.  Unfortunately, in my field of work, this isn't the first time i've seen this look.

I guess I just really related with him in this moment.  I considered what it would be like if I were in his shoes right then.  I'm not much older that him, at 25, and my parents aren't much older than his father was.  That could have very well been me standing there.  When I got home I had a long chat with God and took the time to thank him for all the blessings in my life individually.  I haven't done that in a long time.  I just went through every blessing I could think of in my life and said thanks.  I guess that is one positive to my job, it always has a way of showing me just how blessed I am.  

I want to challenge anyone who reads this to take that minute.  Take it and think about all the blessings you have in your life.  Take that minute and say thanks.  We aren't guaranteed tomorrow so this may be your last chance.  Think about it.

Until Next Time,

1 comment:

John Wesley Leek said...

A good reminder Kyle. Thanks.