What Did Joe See?

  1. The last veil between life and death when lifted, can show a mystery that perhaps only the one leaving this world can see...

    What Did Joe See?

    "You're floating up to Tele this evening," my Supervisor stated.

    "But, I can't read the monitors yet!" I replied with some anxiety. I was a L.P.N. going to R.N. school, and this was my first day on the job at this St. Paul hospital. I was only BLS certified, not ACLS.

    "Not to worry," said she. "I told them your status and they have some over-flow Med/Surg patients that they need help with." I breathed a sigh of relief and nodded. Med/Surg was my strength.

    "I'm on it. Thanks." Off I went to the Tele floor to grab Report. "Joe", was one of my elderly patients, recovering from a recent bout of pneumonia. He had also had a chest tube which was removed earlier that day. Awake, alert and oriented, he chatted on about his dear wife of 62 years, 9 kids and many grandchildren. He couldn't wait to get home. He was up in chair for supper. I had already done my assessment with him earlier, and medicated him for pain. He was tired of course, but in very good spirits. Around 8:00 p.m., I was assisting Joe with his H.S. cares. He was rather fatigued being up so we opted to let him do them while he was in bed. I had just set up the bedside table with his supplies.

    "Joe," I said, "I am going to empty your foley bag while you are washing up, and then I will remove it and finish your cares."

    He nodded, smiling. "You know," he started, "I use Sea Bond. (denture item) As soon as he got the words out, he looked past me at the window. His expression had suddenly changed. The sun had started to go down, and we were up several stories, so the beams from the sun wouldn't reach his window, still a very bright stream of light was coming through. Joe's smile broadened. Joe raised his arms, as his face lit up, as a child waiting to be picked up by a loving father, he collapsed.

    "Joe," I yelled, "Can you hear me?" I grabbed my scope and listened to his chest. He had no heartbeat. I yelled for help. The nurses came running. In my panic I couldn't remember if he was a full code or not.

    "He is," stated the Charge Nurse. "Let's do this."

    I removed the headboard and placed it under Joe's upper body and tossed his Pillow to the chair. I climbed up on his bed for better leverage and began compressions. My Preceptor was there at his head with the Ambu bag. I counted and pushed down, praying inside that I was still doing it right, and that Joe would come back. I was so focused on the compressions and the fear I was feeling, I didn't notice when the Code Team arrived. They put leads on his chest, turned on their equipment, still I did compressions. Finally, and very kindly, sensing my intensity, the doctor gently said in my ear,

    "You may stop compressions now."

    "Oh!! You're here!" I said with relief. We had a rhythm. By now Joe's family was arriving in the hallway, along with the Hospital Chaplain. I looked at my Preceptor, trying hard to appear calm, even though inside my gut was feeling, anxiety, relief, exhaustion. She hugged me.

    "Well," said she, "I guess we can check off your Orientation C.P.R. requirement." I stepped back into the hallway to see Joe's family. The team was still getting him stabilized for transport to ICU. The Chaplain was offering comfort and calm. The family asked me what happened. I explained. The Chaplain took my hand and held it to his chest and asked,

    "What do you think he saw?" There was silence in the hallway. I knew I would have to be careful of what I said. Still, as nurses, we treat not only the body but the spirit as well. I silently prayed for guidance.

    "I'm not sure," I started, "But, Joe saw something and whatever it was, or Whomever it was, he was happy when he saw it. He raised his arms, and drew it in." Tears began to form in the Chaplain's eyes. He turned and offered to walk over to ICU with the family.

    I turned to my charting, a bit choked up myself. Jan, my Preceptor, just smiled. My first day on the job and my first code. Yikes! The next day I learned that we only got Joe back for four hours, that in the wee hours of the morning, he died. I was sad, but glad that we got him back long enough for him to say goodbye to his family and his beloved wife of 62 years.

    Looking back, I am not sure why I was allowed to be part of that in the grand scheme of things. But while being mindful of HIPAA, when I shared the story with my Bio professor, a man with a cardiac problem, who often asked me about what I believed out of class, he too had tears in his eyes.

    "If you are not sure of what may come after death, Sir, ask yourself this, what did Joe see?
    Last edit by Joe V on Jun 14
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  2. Poll: Do you believe in Life After Death?

    • Definitely

      51.52% 34
    • Nope

      16.67% 11
    • Not sure

      31.82% 21
    66 Votes / Multiple Choice

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    About Have Nurse, ASN, LPN, RN Pro

    Cynthia is a Registered Nurse, Dept. Head, and veteran of our armed forces. She loves the Lord, People, the Edwardian/Victorian era and dark chocolate!

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    55 Comments

  4. by   Davey Do
    It's nearly impossible to imagine no existence after our sojourn in this mortal coil, eh Have Nurse?

    Having gone through an NDE after a motorcycle accident back in '76 at the age of 19, comatose with a closed head injury and multiple fractures and internal injuries, I believed in an afterlife. I read Raymond Moody's Life After Life and several other books on the afterlife and reincarnation, studied different religions and theologies for years which all reinforced my belief in an afterlife.

    Then, in the late '90's I read Sherwin Nuland's How We Die which allowed me to consider a different perspective. Dr. Nuland believes, basically, when the body is shutting down, an plethora of neurotransmitters are released in the brain as a last ditch effort to prolong its existence. Individuals who have been near death, experienced this phenomena, and have returned to tell the story, are merely relating a the experience of a greatly heightened consciousness.

    So, to answer your question, Have Nurse, Joe may have experienced a view of the transcendent or was feeling the effects of the release of voluminous amounts of neurotransmitters.

    I do not know.

    Either way, it's a great ride!

    (As was your article!)
  5. by   Daisy Joyce
    I have a slightly different take.
    I totally believe in an afterlife.
    I totally don't believe that NDEs are either the proof or refuting of that afterlife.
  6. by   Orion81RN
    Thank you for sharing this experience. It brought a tear to my eye, being someone who lately has been on the balancing beam of believing and unsure. You ask yourself why you were given the honor of being an integral part in Joe's story. Perhaps it was partly to share the story and reinforce or bring back faith in some people. People maybe like myself who have been living in doubt for a while.
    I'm sure it brought peace to the family. It sounds like it certainly did to that chaplain.
  7. by   Orion81RN
    Delete
  8. by   Orion81RN
    Quote from Davey Do
    It's nearly impossible to imagine no existence after our sojourn in this mortal coil, eh Have Nurse?

    Having gone through an NDE after a motorcycle accident back in '76 at the age of 19, comatose with a closed head injury and multiple fractures and internal injuries, I believed in an afterlife. I read Raymond Moody's Life After Life and several other books on the afterlife and reincarnation, studied different religions and theologies for years which all reinforced my belief in an afterlife.

    Then, in the late '90's I read Sherwin Nuland's How We Die which allowed me to consider a different perspective. Dr. Nuland believes, basically, when the body is shutting down, an plethora of neurotransmitters are released in the brain as a last ditch effort to prolong its existence. Individuals who have been near death, experienced this phenomena, and have returned to tell the story, are merely relating a the experience of a greatly heightened consciousness.

    So, to answer your question, Have Nurse, Joe may have experienced a view of the transcendent or was feeling the effects of the release of voluminous amounts of neurotransmitters.

    I do not know.

    Either way, it's a great ride!

    (As was your article!)
    Thank you for sharing this, Davey.
  9. by   Have Nurse
    Quote from Davey Do
    It's nearly impossible to imagine no existence after our sojourn in this mortal coil, eh Have Nurse?

    Having gone through an NDE after a motorcycle accident back in '76 at the age of 19, comatose with a closed head injury and multiple fractures and internal injuries, I believed in an afterlife. I read Raymond Moody's Life After Life and several other books on the afterlife and reincarnation, studied different religions and theologies for years which all reinforced my belief in an afterlife.

    Then, in the late '90's I read Sherwin Nuland's How We Die which allowed me to consider a different perspective. Dr. Nuland believes, basically, when the body is shutting down, an plethora of neurotransmitters are released in the brain as a last ditch effort to prolong its existence. Individuals who have been near death, experienced this phenomena, and have returned to tell the story, are merely relating a the experience of a greatly heightened consciousness.

    So, to answer your question, Have Nurse, Joe may have experienced a view of the transcendent or was feeling the effects of the release of voluminous amounts of neurotransmitters.

    I do not know.

    Either way, it's a great ride!

    (As was your article!)
    Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it.
  10. by   Have Nurse
    Quote from Orion81RN
    Thank you for sharing this experience. It brought a tear to my eye, being someone who lately has been on the balancing beam of believing and unsure. You ask yourself why you were given the honor of being an integral part in Joe's story. Perhaps it was partly to share the story and reinforce or bring back faith in some people. People maybe like myself who have been living in doubt for a while.
    I'm sure it brought peace to the family. It sounds like it certainly did to that chaplain.
    Thank you. It seems at times, when life is hard or uncertain, (and let's face it. Who hasn't felt that way at one time or another,) that that is the time of our growing. Growing can be painful and a bit scarey can't it? Life has it's storms, but while God can calm the storm, sometimes He lets the storm rage, and calms His child. You aren't alone. There are times when it may feel that way, but you are not alone. He is always there, ready to listen.
  11. by   Have Nurse
    Quote from Daisy Joyce
    I have a slightly different take.
    I totally believe in an afterlife.
    I totally don't believe that NDEs are either the proof or refuting of that afterlife.
    Go get 'em, Daisy! (grin)
  12. by   Have Nurse
    Quote from Davey Do
    It's nearly impossible to imagine no existence after our sojourn in this mortal coil, eh Have Nurse?

    Having gone through an NDE after a motorcycle accident back in '76 at the age of 19, comatose with a closed head injury and multiple fractures and internal injuries, I believed in an afterlife. I read Raymond Moody's Life After Life and several other books on the afterlife and reincarnation, studied different religions and theologies for years which all reinforced my belief in an afterlife.

    Then, in the late '90's I read Sherwin Nuland's How We Die which allowed me to consider a different perspective. Dr. Nuland believes, basically, when the body is shutting down, an plethora of neurotransmitters are released in the brain as a last ditch effort to prolong its existence. Individuals who have been near death, experienced this phenomena, and have returned to tell the story, are merely relating a the experience of a greatly heightened consciousness.

    So, to answer your question, Have Nurse, Joe may have experienced a view of the transcendent or was feeling the effects of the release of voluminous amounts of neurotransmitters.

    I do not know.

    Either way, it's a great ride!

    (As was your article!)
    Well, I suppose that's possible except - He was conscious and talking when he saw it. (smile)
  13. by   VivaLasViejas
    Many years ago I cared for a 100-year-old retired nurse who still had most of her wits about her and used to follow me on rounds at night. She had outlived two husbands and all of her children. One night she told me her daughter was coming to get her; thinking she had become confused, I did the customary urine dip to see if she might be brewing a UTI. She wasn't, at least not if the test was to be believed. But I listened as she told me in great detail about her children, especially the daughter who had died decades before.

    She perseverated on this topic for the next several nights, and even though I knew that people sometimes know when it's their time to go, she seemed as healthy and hearty as ever. I wasn't worried about her until the night before I was to go on vacation. She admitted she was more tired than usual and went to bed early instead of walking around the floor with me. Around one AM I heard her shout "Oh, look!" and went down the hall to her room to find her flat on her back, arms outstretched, eyes wide open...and dead. She went just like that. And to this day I remain convinced that she indeed saw her daughter come for her in that last moment. I like to think so, anyway.
  14. by   Have Nurse
    Quote from VivaLasViejas
    Many years ago I cared for a 100-year-old retired nurse who still had most of her wits about her and used to follow me on rounds at night. She had outlived two husbands and all of her children. One night she told me her daughter was coming to get her; thinking she had become confused, I did the customary urine dip to see if she might be brewing a UTI. She wasn't, at least not if the test was to be believed. But I listened as she told me in great detail about her children, especially the daughter who had died decades before.

    She perseverated on this topic for the next several nights, and even though I knew that people sometimes know when it's their time to go, she seemed as healthy and hearty as ever. I wasn't worried about her until the night before I was to go on vacation. She admitted she was more tired than usual and went to bed early instead of walking around the floor with me. Around one AM I heard her shout "Oh, look!" and went down the hall to her room to find her flat on her back, arms outstretched, eyes wide open...and dead. She went just like that. And to this day I remain convinced that she indeed saw her daughter come for her in that last moment. I like to think so, anyway.
    Yes. My mother was alert though tired too the morning she died. She told us that "Russ was in the room last night." Russ was her dead brother. I believe you.
  15. by   OldDude
    It wasn't by accident or coincidence you were there to witness Joe take his first step into eternal life. God placed you there and you have subsequently utilized this experience to enhance your discipleship to do His work; to go forth as His hands and feet...as evidence, in part, by you sharing this heart warming experience of Joe. This made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Thank you for sharing...Amen

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