Saturday, September 20, 2008

Joe Black

Today, I was doing rounds at 6a.m. Opened to door to "Oscar's" room to find his wife sleeping on the floor and a lady relative in his bed, while he is sleeping in the chair. I had read his MAR and found that he is to have morphine every 2hrs, so I went to get it, came back and his wife was awake. We've bonded over the last few weeks, and I just love her. We'll call her Betty. Betty says that Oscar has been very "phlegmmy" through the night. Then she said it wasn't constant, just every now and then, like he needs to cough. I, knowing that Oscar has been declining quite quickly, and being on his last leg so to speak, I thought this could be more than just phlegm. And sure enough, there it was: my very first aural experience with the "death rattle". Oscar began to breath heavily, his inhalations making sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard, only magnified 20 times. What do you say to the wife? I told her that this is called chayne stokes breathing, and it was a sign that oscar is getting ready to go. She hugged me. I checked back in a little while and found his whole family kneeling around him, crying.

I'll write more about my experience with this family. I don't have enough time right now. But I'll just say, I can't get the sound out of my head, and I know that Joe Black is still lurking around B hall. . . waiting for Oscar.


Michelle said...

What a hard experience for this family. I can't imagine being in your situation -- I'd be so worried about saying the right thing -- trying to be honest but also giving words of comfort. Yet I know you're a great comfort to them, just like you've been a great comfort to me when I've needed support. You're awesome! Thanks for your friendship.

Kelly said...

Oh, that's heartbreaking. :( Wow. I just BARELY watched Meet Joe Black (and loved it!)... so I now know what that means. Ah, that's so hard.

Toni said...

Ooh!!! Joe Black?! When you see him, tell him to come visit me! If my patients are going to die anyways, I could at least use Brad Pitt to make the situation a little brighter :)

Sarah, I can honestly say that I can think of no one who would do a better job of taking care of that man and his family! They are lucky to have you! I'm sure you did great!