Today we welcome Debbie Moore–Black, RN, a staunch advocate for dying with dignity. Debbie blogs about trials and triumphs in critical care nursing at Do Not Resuscitate.
I know. You’re thinking: cold hearted. Cruel. Heartless.
Am I? Or are YOU?!!
Grandma Lilly is 87 years old. She’s in the ICU. On a ventilator. Wrists restrained to the side of the bed. She can barely see because her eyes are puffy; sclera edema. Her heart races.. 140’s/minute. Her blood pressure is low. She now has bought levophed and vasopressin drips because her blood pressure is dangerously low.
She can’t talk to her family. She phases in and out of existence. Grandma Lilly.
End stage renal Disease=Dialysis.
Brittle diabetic. High blood sugars to low ones. No control. She can’t eat. So we feed her by a tube that goes into her nose and lodges in her stomach.
She’s been on the ventilator too long. Tomorrow she goes for a tracheostomy. Tomorrow she gets a peg surgically inserted to feed her.
She’s bought the ICU package.
Ventilator. Dialysis. Pressers. Restraints. Trach. Peg.
And any second of awareness for her is pure brutality.
There is no pretty ending to this torture except to hopefully escape by dying.
Poor Grandma Lilly.
Oh the memories. When we were kids we’d chant for Grandma Lilly. She’d snuggle us up in that rocking chair and read books to us. Let us splash our feet in the puddles after a misty rain. Built sandcastles at the beach. Gave us candy when momma said no.
She was our heart and soul and we wanted her to live forever.
But we don’t live forever.
There’s cruelty in putting an 87 year old with multi system organ failure on a ventilator, restrained, medicated, disoriented …. and wishing for the tunnel to the here-after.
Your memories will live forever.
The ventilator. Churning inspiratory and expiratory breaths…. day after day as Grandama Lilly wishes for death.
Grandpa Joe is two doors away from Grandma Lilly.
He’s going to die also. Ravaged with cancer. But he’s led a good life. And he’s cognitive enough to say he wants to die peacefully with his family and his dog Rufus by his side.
Grandpa Joe is a DNR/DNI and has requested to be “Comfort Care.”
For his excruciating pain from cancer, he is given a morphine drip that flows slowly through his vein.
He breathes slowly. But he’s happy and pain free and surrounded by love.
His room is dimly lit. Music seeps out and fills the ICU hallways. Frank Sinatra,
Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday.
Boy Scout, Eagle Scout. The only one in his family who got a college degree. Campfires, the stories he told, the wisdom and gentle guidance. And here his family sat around him. Good ole’ grandpa Joe. What a life filled with love. They held his hand as they told their loving stories of Grandpa Joe. They laughed and silently wept. Tears of love and happiness and letting go but knowing the pain and suffering of his cancer would be over with soon.
After several rounds of CPR and cracked ribs, tiny little Grandma Lilly died.
Grandma Lilly left this earth tied down like a captured animal.
Grandpa Joe left this earth with quiet whispers of “I love you”💖
The choice can be yours.
Go quiet into the night
This is our last dance.
I am a 33 year mostly ICU nurse with past experience in the Emergency Department, Surgical Nursing and Behavioral Health. I write about current heath dilemmas death and dying, drug and alcohol abuse, nurse/patient stories, management, bullying etc. happy and sad stories. I am currently working at writing a book one day possibly titled: Do Not Resuscitate. This would be my dream come true!! – Debbie Moore-Black, RN
You can conntact Debbie at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Debbie on Facebook: @DNRdmooreblackRN and at her blog, Do Not Resuscitate at: https://dmooreblack.wixsite.com.