I don't know if this has been posted before--but I was just wondering what the best experience with death has been for other nurses out there (or anyone caring to answer). I know we deal with this topic everyday, but I never thought about it until this experience happened to hit so close to home.
I have worked in acute care for many years on a surgical floor. Most of our patients who die--end up coding and go out with many drugs, multiple IV lines, and broken ribs from CPR. The patients that are DNR's usually die alone in the hospital--occasionally with family.
When my father in law developed prostate cancer, I talked a lot with him about his wishes. He chose hospice care. They were very helpful. The day before he died, he began bleeding out. I had just given birth to my second child and wanted desperately to have grandpa meet Sean. He held out and on Saturday, two hours from discharge, I went to the house with the baby. Dad had been in a semi-comatose state, but when my hubby and I told him we had his new grandson, he opened his eyes and held Sean's hand.
He had wanted the funeral arrangements all completed, so mom and my SIL went to the funeral home. They had been with dad most of the morning saying good bye. Joe (my hubby) and I each got some time alone with dad. I was able to say goodbye and ask him to look my brother Danny up (who had died the year before--and who I did not get to say goodbye to). Dad actually smiled and squeezed my hand. He was able to kiss Joe once more.
Mom and Mel (SIL) returned from the funeral parlor--The TV had golf on in the living room (very loud), and the Catholic channel in the bedroom was having high mass, Dad sat up smiled at all of us (who were now gathered around his bed), he lay down and his breathing slowed down (we all told him it was ok to let go) and he took his last breath. It was the most peaceful experience I have ever had. I hope that someday when I die, I can have all my loved ones around me letting me know it was ok to go.
I don't intend to make this thread morose--I just wanted to share this experience with friends who I know will understand what I am saying. Peace.
Apr 1, '02
Last week,I was privileged to witness the best death I have seen in a long time, perhaps ever.
She had fought a long hard and good fight to recover from bacterial PNX and I forget what else. She came off the vent. Then (I don't recall all the details) she went back on the vent. Anyway by the time I took care of her again, she was third spacing, output for 24 hrs was 300cc, BP Systolic was 70 to low 80's and diasystolic 30's to 40's.
We tried fluid boluses to no avail. I called the doc. and he ordered dopamine and I said the family was there so he told me he'd be right in
This family was intensely devoted all through the illness and everyone including the patient were very nice.
I expained everything I was doing and why and what was happening. The Doc arrived just as bp came up to 90.
He explained the severity of the situation and that we could keep her alive indefinately on machines. The family agreed but deferred to the husband. He said he did not want ever to loose her but he knew he could not keep her for ever and beleved it was inevitable that he would loose her at this time. He stated it was not what he wanted but what she wanted and made the decision to withdraw life support measures.
Then a little "miracle" happened. She woke up. This gave them the chance to say their goodby's. Then after some time had passed I explained how the dopamine allowed more oxygen to go to the brain etc. and that I believe that this is what woke her. They took this for the gift that it was. (not a sign that she would live) We put them in 100% control. We would not remove any life support until they desided it was time too.
She lived peacfully for 3 more days with them at the bedside. Her elderly husband holding her hand and declining to sleep in the other bed. They took care of each other and required very little from us even though we offered food coffee beds etc. They spared each other off long enough to go home to shower or get meals from the cafateria.
I was not there at the very last but I understand she slipped very gently into death with her husband holding her hand.
You cannot believe, (or maby you can. you are a nurse) the realease of tension and grief that came over thier faces when they realized they would get to say goodby as they fully realized that she was awake and cognizent. That gift made them relaxed and at ease with all the rest that followed.
She did not die in pain, struggling or fear. She was with those she loved the most the whole time. They got to say good by. Gee I'm all a quiver thinking about this marvelous family.
I am so very privileged to be a nurse an be able to even witness this let alone have a part.
Thank you so very much for sharing your story of your Dad's passing. You are one of those incredible families that I can only admire.
Last edit by Agnus on Apr 1, '02