I wrote this in May 2007. This was my first clinical day of Med Surg.
Today was our first day of med surg.
I had a very nice patient. He had a very nice family there to be there with him. He will be my patient tomorrow and I am very lucky.
I was assigned another patient. When we all arrived.....he was alone. When we arrived, he was no more.
I was assigned to join the man from the procurement bank. I did not expect that. I knew the time would come that I would have to attend to a person who had passed away. I did not know it would be the first day of med surg. At first, I was the only one assigned.
I helped the procurement tech finish up his paperwork. I was so sad inside. It was very sad to me. He was only 44 years old. He had Cancer. He had been DNR. He had been an alcohol and cocaine abuser. He decided to donate his corneas. And that was what we were set to do. Scared. I was scared. But I felt inside I owed it to this man to treat him with respect. Though he was no more there...even before I saw his face.
I think I was assigned because I was the only one on the floor at the time. Everyone was going to lunch. But a handful of students more passed by and the teacher asked could he have more people accompany us. He said we could have 3 more.
I wanted to throw up in my mouth a little. Some (not all) were jumping up and down saying....me, me, me! As if the teacher had asked who wanted ice cream. The three were chosen on the basis of who had breakfast. We had been on the floor since 6:30am and it was now 1200. She did not want people passing out. So one of the girls was a good choice, one was immature, and the other....I don't know how to say.....I don't know the word. Maybe insensitive? Maybe jaded?
For me what was about to take place was not something I would describe with words like "cool". I did not like that word. It is a word I use frequently.....but never, ever did that word come to mind. The jaded, insensitive one said "we all gotta go sometime".....again.....poor choice of words I felt.
I know I am probably an over sensitive person. No....I know that I am. When the body was brought out for the procedure.....I tried to maintain. I thought I put on a professional face. We were looking over the body, inspection. One of the girls tells me that I look very sad. And I am suprised at first.....because I did not think I was so obvious....I was really trying to be cool and professional. But the jaded, insensitive one laughs at me as if I am stupid. I am reminded that he is dead. She is laughing in a very mocking manner. And the one who asked laughs at me. And I am very sad and sick inside. And I tell them....because when we die....we are all equal. Nobody wins. He did not win. You are not going to win. There was a time when this man was anticipated. When he was born somebody surely loved him. Everybody was somebody's baby once.
The one who asked the question got teary. She thought she was going to cry. The insensitive one kept it in line for the most part.
I looked for the tattoos, IV sites, scars, etc. I stopped at the man's face. He looked so peaceful. And that made me less scared. Whatever he had been thru. Whatever physical of mental pain he had suffered. It was over. And now he was peaceful. His body could give no more. But yet.....his body....in death....was about to give one last thing.
Interesting juxtaposition. The one who thought herself to be better said she would never give her organs....her eyes....no way. This man was about to either give sight to another person or contribute to research.
I want to tell you this. The procurement tech.....he was very professional. Very nice person. Very respectful.
I will not go into detail of the procedure. But I do want you to know. It is not gory. It is amazing really. You can still have an open casket.
One thing I want to say however.....and I hope it doesn't make you feel funny. It would not be my intention. When we first saw him. It looked as though he was sleeping. When his eyes were opened he looked like a doll. Almost mannequin like. The soul was gone. When his corneas were removed the iris, the eye the colored part where the iris was is very big. It appears...although the expression is the same ...as if he has been released or something. I felt that he looked as if his soul had been freed. It made me feel better somehow. Gave me a sure feeling that this was the right thing to do. This is what I felt. This is the impression I got. I am overly sensitive. But I think I am right. When it was done. We restored his peaceful sleeping appearance. I felt better.
No family was there when he passed. But I felt had they been there... They might have been proud of him. Maybe yes, maybe no. Maybe this is what I tell myself to feel better. But of this I am sure. He was somebody's baby once. We all started the same with our first breath. And we all end the same with our last.