Thursday, January 12, 2012

With Her Last Breathe

This first week of nursing school has been so insane for a variety of reasons. So much going on, packed into a very small amount of time, and so many big things! School has started off wonderfully. I'm not used to sitting in lecture for so long every day, but I am enjoying my professors and how real they are. In my first degree, a lot of the professors were people above me. My professors now are people who are well aware that soon we will call ourselves colleagues. Quite refreshing! The program is a little disorganized but at least it's a semi-organized chaos!

My injections for my donation have been going wonderfully. I don't mind getting poked in the belly I've found out. But these injections are making me incredibly sore! Tonight has by far been the worst. I just feel like I've been railroaded super hardcore; everything is achy and my body is just exhausted in a sense right now. I can't get comfortable to save my life and my lower back is throbbing/radiating pain. But even with this discomfort it still doesn't match what my donee has been going through and the prep she's going through to get ready for this donation. Tomorrow, I'm not so much looking forward to the big needle in my arm but it's still a small discomfort in relation to what my donee's going through. I believe all will be well!!

Bugs. Roommate freaking out and moving out because of bugs. That's been another crazy aspect.

Lastly, minigrams passed away last night.

She slipped into a comatose state Sunday evening. We knew it was coming, the end stages of ESLD, but mom didn't tell me when it happened as first day of class was Monday morning. I didn't go Monday evening due to my chaotic schedule. Tuesday evening I went over to be there for my mom. Wednesday I was expecting to hear grams had passed but was shocked when mom said she was still hanging on. Mom told me grams had what's known as the "death rattle" and that it was rather unpleasant but if I wanted to come she would really appreciate the support. So I went and sat with them.

Upon walking in the room, hearing the death rattle for the first time was a little unarming. The sound was comparable to an engine refusing to turn over. Grams breathing was quite labored and forced, the sounds from her lungs was excruciating loud for the room, her heart rate was quite brisk at 145 bpm, and her respirations were 45 breaths/min. Her body was quite dehydrated, having been in that state for 3 days and her body was on fire. At first I encouraged her to go if it was her time and we stayed out of her room. But upon returning like I had promised her I would with some coffee, I had the sense that she was fighting so hard simply because she was scared to die. She was a tiny woman in life, quite frightened of the world in many aspects. And honestly, I wouldn't want to die alone either. So I took her hand in mind and started keeping post.

As the nurses came in, they knew I was in nursing school and would tell me what they were doing. They gave her some medications intended to dry out the secretions in the lung that would make it less laborous for her to breathe, and some morphine, for any pain. The second round of medicines they gave, as they were administered IV, you could literally see, hear, and feel them take effect as grams body started to relax and her breathing became less laborous, the sound from her lungs more quiet, and her body more relaxed.

Nearing the evening, my brother Marshall came to say his last goodbyes. On his way over, I started to become a little more concerned he wouldn't make it in time as I could hear her breaths getting more shallow and relaxed and heard her respiration rate decrease. As soon as Marshall came in the room I let him take her hand and as soon as he started talking, her breathing became more laborous. She knew it was Marshall. After a few minutes her breathing again began to relax and calm down. A half hour later, I could tell we were nearing the end. Her respirations had decreased to around 22, her heart rate had dropped from the 140's to the low 120's, and the interval between breaths went from being consistent to varying. I told my mom, brother, and uncle (who were all in the room) that the end was near and if they were comfortable, it would be beneficial for both them for closure and for grams to feel the touch of loved ones, in the very last intimate moments of life.

Less than a half hour later she took her last breaths. It was very peaceful, very calm, and very intimate as we sat there and embraced her hands and arms while she went from this world and into the arms of Jesus. With her hand in both of mine, I was able to monitor her heart beat and got to feel the last pump of her heart before her spirit was gone. In a sheer instant, she went from her earthly body to her spiritual body. And what a blessing and honor it was to be there. To comfort and love her in her last moments, to support my mother and walk my family through the dying process, and to experience such a precious moment in time that not many people get to witness very often.

Now I'm heading to bed, in preparation for my donation tomorrow, in hopes that I can give a second chance at life to a woman who needs it. How blessed am I for all the events that have transpired this week?! Truly blessed indeed.

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