I recently sat down and actually processed what's been happening over the past couple of months.
I've always been a friendly, social person. Whether it’s a simple conversation or a long term friendship, I just love talking to people. Having people around has always been a big deal for me. But now, that’s all changed.
I recently sat down and actually processed what's been happening over the past couple of months, and that was the first thing that popped into my head—a lot of these patients are dying alone.
I don’t want to die alone.
My grandmother passed away when I was young, but it’s stayed with me. She was surrounded by a bunch of family members at home. Even at a young age, I got the sense that no one wants to be alone when they’re dying. No one wants to die alone. And I would not want to die alone.
It's weird to say, but when it comes to my own death, I've kind of already accepted it. We all eventually die, and I’ve seen it happen in my Intensive Care Unit (ICU) all the time. I'm willing to let the physicians do what they need to do, but I do not want to be trapped in my own life. I would rather my family let me go peacefully, rather than suffering with someone pouncing on my chest or putting a tube down my throat.
We see a lot.
Recently, one patient got worse after being intubated. The family was always updated throughout the situation, because no one's allowed to come in to visit. About a week goes by, and the family decided she wouldn't want this to drag out any further, and chose to withdraw care for her.
During the process, they were able to visit for about a total 10 minutes, but they had to leave before she passed. We stayed at the bedside, holding her hand through it. But, I don't know the patient personally, so it’s different than if a family member was with her in those moments. I really felt sad.
There's no one there for them in that process. No one to tell them one last story, or sing their favorite song, or help them through that transition. They’re not able to give them ease of mind in knowing someone they love is with them.
And even with recoveries, there’s still sadness. One patient got his tube taken out, and we all prepared for the worst. We prepared the families for the worst, as well. But, he was actually able to get better and return home to his family.
Still, through the whole process, he was alone. He was still scared out of his mind. Not having anyone with him, but knowing that we were able to save his life to go back home to his family was one of the big wins that we felt, not just as a nurse, but as the whole team. We all really took that one to heart, because it was a really close one that we were able to prevent.
I never really thought about all of this until I recently took the time to think about the last couple of months. After a certain amount of time, everything is just programmed and we're kind of just going with what's happening and never able to sit down and think about what's actually going on.
I don't want to die alone, because I don't think there's enough time for me to share all the stories that have happened to me with my loved ones. If it is down to those couple of minutes, I would really want them to know what I've been through. Whether it's life lessons or stories about their life that I never told them, things that I kind of hid to protect them, I’d want them to know, because there's no reason for me to keep it anymore.
It would be nice if I could give my future a piece of my life.
I Don't Want To Die Alone
Vincent Phi, RN BSN