posted on Oct, 20 2012 @ 10:20 PM
I've experienced death from two vantage points. One as a student in the respiratory care field and one as the grieving relative.
My dad passed from cancer before I went into healthcare classes. I have always said that I learned more in those few weeks than I had in my whole
education combined. Spending time with Dad in his last days taught me a lot about the man he was and the woman I was becoming. We became closer and it
was interesting to watch how each family member played a role in helping him to pass. I had just began to attend church, so he asked me hard questions
about God and heaven that helped me grow as I attempted to find answers to help him. Since I always had been interested in medicine, he had me looking
for anything that might help him and he shared details about his disease and how he was feeling with me. After the docs discovered that they could
gauge the spread of his lymphoma by looking at the tissue on the inside of his eyelids, he took the time to show me so that I could maybe save someone
else if I ever noticed the same in a patient.
In the very final days, he shared with me the visions he was having. He would stare off into the distance and his face would just glow. Whenever I
asked him what he was seeing, he shared with me that he understood exactly how the universe worked and everything at once as well. I questioned him
about it and he tried very hard to explain, but just couldn't find the words. Sensing his frustration, I told him not to worry about explaining,
that my mind was too small to comprehend it all anyway. And I really do believe that! He passed very early in the morning with my mom at his side.
She had told him it was all right to go and that his mother was waiting for him. She said he went peacefully during sleep.
As a student in Respiratory, I was privy to many deaths. I have witnessed the death scene similar to my dad's with the family waiting at the bedside.
I've heard patients speak of stairs in the corner of the room that the rest of us can't see and people we can't see too. I've also witnessed the
almost soulless deaths where the person appears to be just gone and that is it, no fanfare, no visions- like the light was on and it just went off.
Then there was the young man who had been in an accident. He was hooked to a ventilator which was why I was there. His family was having to make the
difficult decision whether or not to let him die. The docs did tests and determined he was brain dead. He looked like he was sleeping.
The family took much time making their decision. I know it's a very difficult choice, made even harder by the fact that we have the ability to keep a
body alive in a state that makes it look very much alive. They finally decided to let him go and we went into the room to disconnect the vent. It's
a sobering experience to remove a body from the only thing maintaining it's necessary functions. After the vent was disconnected, we joined the
family for a few moments(we had been his caregivers the whole time he had been there), watching his respiratory rate stop, oxygen saturation drop to
zero, and his heart flatline. His death lives within me, maybe more so than any other besides my dad's. He was already dead and we kept his body
alive. Watching his body die immediately, I knew the man who his family loved so much had been gone way before he came to us. I remember thinking
about my dad on the way home that day and how death actually happens whenever the soul leaves the body, not when we decide the body has had enough.
Working with death takes a toll on a person after a while and it didn't hurt my feelings much to give up medicine after being injured in an accident.
Sometimes I miss the rush of a good "save", but I don't miss the hurting families, pain, and suffering. I am thankful for all the "real" learning
I picked up along the way.