We had this young 40′ish guy in ICU the past few weeks, in very sad shape. He O’Ded on cocaine and caused a major bleed in his brain .
Anyway the family refused to ‘let him go’ for 2 wks. He was brain dead, and finally after the 2 weeks they spoke to the pastor and MD and decided to turn off the respirator.
(Sorry if I sound really cold, he wasn’t my patient at all and I had no involvement whatsoever except in the funny story that follows.)
So they turn it off. From there, we know it could take minutes, hours, days, for him to go. No one knows except The One Up There.
A half hour after that, the sister came over to us at the nurse’s station 2 feet away, and all 4 of us heard her say with her reallll strong southern accent (we’re in Chicago, so it was quite noticeable!) “He’s dead?”
(You have to try and hear that in your head: “Hee’az day-edd?”)
All 4 or so of us jumped up, glanced at the monitor to see perfectly normal heart rhythm and respirations, and in 4 different voices said reassuringly “No no!”, “He’s breathing”, “His heart is beating” “He’s still alive!” “He’s still with us Ma’am….”
She looked at us funny and repeated her question: “Hee’az day-edd? Did Hee’az day-edd go home yet?”
Of course being the professionals (cough cough) that we are, we couldn’t burst out laughing in front of her face at this very horrible painful time of her life so we had to hold it in and calmly answer something like “Oh I’m sorry Ma’am. We didn’t see him leave….”.
But as soon as she walked away, oh my gosh, we all just fell apart.
Those tears were rolllllllllling down my cheeks. I couldn’t even TALK for 5 minutes.
Contributed by Bina Simon, RN