he was the very first patient i'd take vitals on, alone.
there was no one to oversee me.
i remember trying to swallow a lump in my throat when i pulled the curtain back.
he looked just.
he had lung cancer.
he wasn't very positive about it.
told me it was going to take his life.
i told him about my dad.
my dad was still alive at the time,
and he wasn't doing poorly either.
in fact, he was fighting it.
he was clean of cancer at the time,
or so they thought.
or at least that's what i told bed A.
i remember holding his thin wrist in my hand for 60 whole seconds,
because that's what i did.
i wanted to make sure i didn't just round up or down.
i wanted to give the correct pulse.
after all, i was charting now.
and i didn't have any one else's initials beside the vitals, but mine.
his vitals were good, in fact they were great.
he was just so negative.
i remember while holding his wrist, bed B's life changed.... forever.....
those 60 seconds changed bed B's life (and mine) forever....
the dr walked in while i was with bed A.
he pulled the curtain back for bed B and i could hear every.... single... word being spoken.
dr said. "mr littlejohn, the results are in. there is cancer in your liver and your pancreas. it is inoperable, but we will be referring you to another...." that was all i'd heard from the dr.... i was still trying to count A's pulse.
i heard mr. littlejohn ask, "what does that mean? how long do i have? dr, will i make it to my next birthday?"
and then swallowed again.
i was still counting the beats in A's wrist.
dr: "patients with cancer in their liver and pancreas, have anywhere from 6 to 12 months."
mr littlejohn: "but will i make it to my next birthday?"
dr: "unfortunately mr littlejohn, there's no way to tell that. i'll be back in later on today to discuss further options with you and your family."
the dr walked out....
how was i supposed to go over there and take his vitals? REALLY?! i am supposed to go over there and say what?
"um hi, i know you just found out that you're terminal, but can i go ahead and take your temperature and blood pressure?"
yeah, that wasn't going to happen, but my legs (and heart) for whatever reason, still felt compelled enough to walk the rest of my body over there.
i left the machine outside his curtain.
i wasn't going to do that to him.
i pulled his curtain back.
introduced myself as taking care of him for the day.
i walked over to him and he just looked at me, with tears in his eyes.
i just looked at him, and there were NO other words exchanged.
i just leaned in and hugged him
and he reached up and just hugged me back, and began weeping on my shoulder.
yes, he was sobbing.
and through the tears and the sniffles, he asked, "how am i going to tell my wife and my daughter? i can't call them and tell them. will you call them?"
my brain automatically FREAKS!!!! "what? me? call them? what the hell am iiii supposed to say?! i don't know them!"
but i swallowed. i said, "sure. what would you like me to say?"
he said, "i don't know."
i said, "why don't we ask them to come in and we can call for the dr when they are here, and the doctor can help you tell them."
that was our best bet.
and that's what i did.
he couldn't even take the phone to talk to his wife.
but she came.
she came and we called the dr and the dr came back and broke the horrible news to his wife.
they cried together.
they called in their daughter, and near the end of my shift, mr littlejohn's entire family was there.
how quickly his room filled with people who loved him dearly.
children, and grandchildren came.
it was amazing....
(poor A, he couldn't rest that day)....
i was off the next day, but when i came back the day after, mr littlejohn had gone home.
he left the hospital, to go home and pass peacefully.
that was what he decided.
he didn't want his last time alive to be spent miserably....
i prayed that he would make it to his next birthday.
i never got to say goodbye.
i thought for sure he'd be there when i got back.
2 months later, i'd been floated to another floor.
i saw his dr.
i asked "hey dr! whatever happened to mr littlejohn. he'd left on my day off, and i was sad i didn't get to say goodbye."
he'd told me, "he went home. he went home and passed away 5 days later...."
my mind went a million miles a minute....
FIVE DAYS LATER?!
"but you'd said 6 to 12 months.... how misleading....." (i didn't say that, but i did think it)....
i am glad he went home.
i am glad he'd had all his family there that day....
even though mr A didn't get any rest that day,
dear sweet mr littlejohn had his family surround him just days before he passed.
i wonder if he knew he wasn't going to make it much longer....
i really wonder if he knew....
what would you do if you got a call that your spouse (or anyone you care about for that matter) only had 5 days left to live?....
everyone thinks they live each day like it's their last, but i promise you, you don't.
you may think you do, but you don't.
yesterday, i'd stumbled across this lady's blog... she had started it just 1 month before her husband passed away tragically and untimely. he died at work. in a work related accident. it TURNED my stomach, and i probably shouldn't have read it, but i couldn't stop.
i thought about jason, and if he were to just not come home one night.
i am not entirely sure i'd be able to go on.....
i have made every attempt to tell him and SHOW him daily how much i love, adore and appreciate him and all his hard work....
what have you done lately?
again, people, i know it's like me beating a dead horse.
i say it all the time.
hold on tightly and lovingly to the ones you love most....
they aren't going to be here forever.
so long mr littlejohn.
i will forever remember your embrace and your tears....
but even more than that i'll remember your strength.
you held it together for your wife and your family SO amazingly well....
i will forever remember you....