Tuesday, May 26, 2009


One of my patients died, and it's thrown me for a little bit of a loop.

But NM, I hear you say, you work in a rehab facility, a long term care facility, and for a hospice. You expect your patients to die!

And you're right, I DO expect them to die.....but of all the people I've cared for recently, this person was NOT on my radar as 'death imminent' or even 'death in the next few days'. They were independent and cared for themselves; they just needed a little help here and there with medications and appliances and the like. They were with it mentally and I had more than a few interesting conversations with them. I came to regard them more as a friend than someone I was being paid to take care of.

They were prior military and retired at the rank my husband just attained. That stings a little.

One day when I was taking care of some things for them they looked at me and said "why are you here?". I paused for a moment, not sure of what to say, and I think they saw the confusion on my face and said "I mean, what are you doing wasting yourself like this? You're smarter than this; I know it and you know it. Don't waste a whole lot more time, young lady. Life's too short to waste time."

They were right. A few days later, they were dead.

I read about their death in the newspaper. It's a habit of mine to read the obituaries every few days to see who has departed this life. Sometimes seeing a name I recognize is a cause for me to rejoice - not in a 'Yay! That asshole is dead!' way, but in a 'I'm so glad their pain has come to an end' way. Not this time, though. Apparently I wailed 'OH NO!!!!!!!!!!!NO!!!!!!" loud enough to cause Urbaner to come downstairs to see what was wrong.

Sometimes I think death takes the wrong person with him when he makes a visit. There are many more people in that facility who are suffering terribly, either because they're in pain or are incapacitated in some way and who just don't want to be here anymore. Why death decided to take my friend with him and not one of those other people, I don't know. Why my friend's heart quit beating but someone else's, someone who is far sicker than they ever were continues to beat, I don't know. I don't know why some people who are horribly damaged manage to live whilst others who are seemingly fine and relatively healthy just up and die.....I just don't know.

I DO know that my friend was a fine person and that I am sad they are gone. I don't do well at funerals, but theirs is one that I would consider attending.

Goodbye, Telly. You will be missed, and remembered fondly.


Anonymous said...

Hello there

I'm so sorry your friend died. I couldn't help but thinking, after your decription of some of the other people you care for, how glad I was that your friend died before they got to that stage.

I hope that will offer some comfort. He died still being him. :-)

Ninjamedic said...

Dear Anon: Thank you, it DOES. You are right, Telly died whilst he was still himself. His family didn't have to go through two deaths; they didn't have to lose their loved one first and then lose the shell that he used to live in months or even years later.
Thank you again for your kind words and for being a voice of sanity and reason - just when I needed it most! :-)