I work on a massage therapy team that offeres complementary therapies to pts in our local hospital. It is amazing work, and I really love it. I'm trying to get my RN license and mix the two.
The other day, my worst fear happened. I was working on a terminally ill elderly woman, on cardiac step-down. She had said she was feeling really low that day, but lit up when I offered her a massage (she'd been seen before by another CMT, and she loved it!)
While I was working on her, it was clear she was having trouble getting comfortable. She had a large oxygen mask she kept grabbing at, and her chronic arthritis was causing a lot of pain. She did close her eyes a couple times, and relaxed a little. I did very, very light work on her shoulders & neck b/c she was on heparin.
The pt then asks me if I can roll her over, and what the status of her oxygen is. I tell her I am not allowed to re-position or move any pts unless they can do it on their own. I also cannot give her information about her oxygen, so I excuse myself to find her RN to check on it.
I left the room for only a minute, and returned with the pts RN. He looked at the oxygen and said, "she's fine." But when he tried to talk to the pt, she was unresponsive. They called a code blue, but she was a DNR so she passed away shortly after.
At first, I was so scared that I'd done something wrong! But I am meticulous about following in-hospital massage protocols, so I calmed down a little bit. One nurse pointed out that getting a massage right at the end must be a really nice way to go! I found out later that her family was also very grateful that someone was there with her, giving her therapeutic massage, right before she passed.
It was the first time in the 25 year history of this hospital massage program that a pt coded and passed away when the CMT was there.
I will never forget this pt, or this experience.
It was humbling, and inspiring at the same time.