Monday, March 1, 2010

bed B

bed A was closest to the door, and the first patient i'd see. i pulled his curtain back.
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.
like.
my.
dad.
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?"
i swallowed.
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.
he agreed.
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.
sisters, brothers.
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...."
WHAT?!
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....

5 comments:

Pat Tillett said...

You did it to me again...

Stephani Nicole Anneler said...

You got me all teared up now : (
This reminds me of my grandpa's passing
Josh took me to Alaska and proposed to me
My whole family knew he was going to do it except me
My grandpa (only 65) had been sick for a few months but we thought he would overcome it and get better
Half way through our cruise to Alaska they found out he only had a matter of weeks left to live but
no one wanted to tell me and ruin my proposal because they knew I'd be a mess and want to leave
I remember getting off the ship and getting into our taxi on our way to the airport
I called my Dad cause he asked me to call him as soon as we got off the ship
I was so happy i was engaged and telling Dad how much fun we had
and then
"Stephani, your grandpa only has a few more weeks to live, they have brought him home and that's where he wants to be during his final days"
How could this happen to someone who was never sick a day of his life
How was my grandma gonna survive without him when he did everything for her
I need him at my wedding
He is too young
Josh didn't even get a chance to get know one of my favorite people in the whole wide world
All these thoughts were rasing through my head and i cried the whole flight home
did not stop crying once, never stopped looking out the window and my body felt empty all of a sudden
I felt helpless, this just could not be true
I remember our plane landing and my dad was there to pick us up and we drive up North to see him
I hugged him so tight and he said to me "Baby girl, do you think this is a joke? I don't feel like it's my time to go"
I'll never forget that day...Ill never forget him telling me that he would make it to my wedding no matter what
I remember holding him, laying on him and just crying so hard i couldn't breath
I remember asking him what he wanted for dinner that night (even though he could barley eat) and he said a steak and a beer
He stopped drinking years ago but that was his request
and so we cooked him the best steak ever and got him his beer
He passed away 2 days later
Sometimes i look at his picture when i get ready in the mornings and i get so mad that he was taken so soon
and then i remind myself that the Lord had better plans for him and that he is in a much better place now
Sorry, you got me going with this post.
Great post Ashely
Have you seen that movie "My Sister's Keeper" Josh and I watched it last night...great movie that will bring tears to your eyes

buymebarbies said...

WOW!!! Ash, they always made me cry and still do....What a picture that left in my mind!!!

Mainland Streel said...

I probably think about the brevity of life more than I should, but it has given me the ability to not sweat the small stuff, and to make time to show my loved ones that I love them. I'm not sure why, as humans, we live like we're invincible, when our entire existence could end in the blink of an eye.

I love your stories, Ashley.

Ashley King said...

aw mainland, yes. people don't truly live their lives as though they're ending.... i am so grateful to know that others still take the time to love their loved ones.... it does wonders....

thank you for loving my stories... what a sweet compliment. it's like you saying you love my heart. these stories are my heart. =) and the fact that you love them makes me smile.... thank you.