The Waiting Game
This is my favorite memory of my years in rehab nursing. It changed the way I cared for patients and their families. It's the story of the experience of an elderly woman near certain death, and how it changed the way of thinking for all involved. It's a feel good story as well as humorous, kinda creepy and certainly an eye opener for all of us involved. Especially me, as I found myself changing the way I did things and made me more aware spiritually.
- 22 Published Dec 8, '12
She was 99 years old had just had a pretty severe stroke. She was brought to our rehab unit with the hope of some degree of recovery. Our staff wasn't so sure as she showed little improvement as the days rolled on. Our team of Physical and Occupational Therapists, nursing staff, Doctors, and Speech Therapists gave her great care. She was one of our pet projects.
Her family who consisted of four daughters were there daily to help encourage her and us to not give up, for they knew what this little lady was like and wanted desperately for us to know her too. I felt like I did know some sense of her feisty personality because of all the stories her daughters entertained me with each time I was in the room performing nursing tasks.
I learned that she had been a widow for some 30 years and had since lived alone taking care of her two-story home and even a large vegetable and rose garden. She did this adamantly refusing help and was quite firm in her wishes to NOT downsize. As she showed signs of deteriorating, the Doctor and staff gently prepared these sisters for the worst. She just looked worn out. Tired. Ready to give up. The sisters agreed that they wanted to tube feed her and IV hydrated. then the unthinkable happened. She became unresponsive which was the result of the original bleed extending further causing irreversible damage.
Through much agonizing and lots of tears, the sisters finally agreed that it was over and that they should let her go peacefully. They agreed that it would be best to stop all palliative care as they assumed she would prefer to not linger on. Well this 99 year old little gal did linger for days...and days. The Doc was just as surprised as I was but certain death would be soon.
The sisters having been there for the duration were making funeral plans and reading the Bible to her. I have to admit she already looked dead and with the cheynne stokes, I was counting the minutes. Then a funny thing happened right then and there that I will never forget. This little woman opened her eyes, looked straight at me and said, "What are you trying to do, starve me to death???" I stood with my mouth open not quite knowing how to react then replied "yeah, I guess so". With that she let out a laugh that was like music from heaven.
No one in the hospital could believe that she lingered for 15 days in a comotose state without hydration with a brain bleed that was extensive. The best part of this story is that this lady recovered to return home to her house, she began to garden again, and began to visit us regularly. We celebrated her 100th birthday with her family at our facility. I will never forget this miracle as long as I live. It assures me that nothing is impossible if its meant to be.Last edit by Joe V on Dec 8, '12
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