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  •  It wasn't a medical emergency, but ... (42+ / 0-)

    my father died at about 11:45 PM on Christmas Eve.  He had terminal cancer, and my mother (who had worked as a nurse's aide and had seen people die) knew he wasn't going to make it through the night, so she refused to leave and get some rest.

    Earlier in the day, a nurse had tried to get a blood sample, and had been unable to do it in either arm or wrist (since his blood pressure was already dropping), and started on an ankle, prompting my father to scream in pain.  I told the nurse that I wanted to see her in the hall IMMEDIATELY, and then asked if she knew my father's prognosis.  She said that she did, and I then asked what one more blood test could possibly tell them that was worth putting my father through any more pain.  She said that she didn't know, but it was "doctor's orders."  I told her that I wasn't angry with her, but that she had one of a few choices:  (1) get a doctor to change the order, (2) get a doctor to come and convince me that whatever the blood test might reveal was worth putting my father through any more pain, or (3) come back with enough big guys to hold me down while they tried to find another vein, since I would be physically resisting them.  She came back after 30 minutes or so and told me that the doctor had said the order was "just routine" and that "under the circumstances," he'd change it.  And she then said to me, "I hope that if I'm ever in your father's condition, somebody in my family will do for me what you just did for him."

    Late that evening, my father was struggling for each breath, and a merciful nurse gave him a shot of morphine "to help him relax and not struggle quite so much."  Without the struggling for each breath, he didn't get enough oxygen to sustain life, and died within an hour.  Without it, he would probably have struggled for breath a few hours longer.  Was that euthanasia, or merely compassionate medicine?  I frankly don't care -- it was the moral, decent, compassionate thing to do.  And I thank God for the doctor who wrote the order, and the nurse who carried it out.

    That event was more than 25 years ago, but I remember it every Christmas Eve.  And I thank God for the compassionate nurses and doctors who are working this night, saving those who can be saved, and mercifully granting exits to those who need them.

    Bin Laden is dead. GM and Chrysler are alive.

    by leevank on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 06:39:40 PM PST

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