Monday, September 15, 2008

death and all his friends...

this weekend i learned that a patient of recent died. no couple has affected me ever yet as much as this one. she stayed in his room after his first massive heart attack, not willing to leave the bedside, saying they've always been together and she's not leaving now. he did okay and they joked around all the time and we got to know them more than i wish we did and he transferred out. then his body tried to die again and he came back. she grabbed my arm and hung on as we settled him into our bed. she would hold his head and whisper in his ear as the ventilator did his breathing. and he did okay and transferred out. then he tried to die again and he came back. she was exhausted. she told me above the hum and hip hop of machines "i've always prayed i'd go before him, i just can't live without him." and he did okay and he discharged from the hospital.

and this weekend i learned that he did die, just a month after his first hospitalization with us. in the hospital. death and all his friends won the tug-of-war.

if nothing else, this whirlwind of a weekend after getting back to the country, this helped me decide that i am done in the intensive care unit. i accepted a new job today where i'll get to stick stuff up people's butts all day :) and i couldn't be more excited.

if i ever come back to the ICU to do this hellish work that no one should deal with every time they go to work, i have a lot of maturing to do. i feel totally defeated, but i knew the whole time, even before i started, that i didn't want to work there.

it's humbling and so wonderful at the same time. i think it'll feel freeing once it hits! death is always there. i accept that, i know there's so much more. i think a lot of people think they can deal with death just fine, but they've never seen it or experienced it or helped others experience it. living on this side of life it feels so final. especially when you don't really know what's going to happen to that soul from that lifeless body that you're taping up in a plastic garbage-bag-like tomb. maybe that's what was so hard for me. maybe i'm just a total puss.

i was reading tim ferriss' blog as he quoted Dr. King:

“I say to you, this morning, that if you have never found something so dear and precious to you that you will die for it, then you aren’t fit to live.

You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be, and one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls upon you to stand for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid.

You refuse to do it because you want to live longer. You’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you’re afraid that somebody will stab or shoot or bomb your house. So you refuse to take a stand.

Well, you may go on and live until you are ninety, but you are just as dead at 38 as you would be at ninety.

And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.

You died when you refused to stand up for right.

You died when you refused to stand up for truth.

You died when you refused to stand up for justice.”

-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
From the sermon “But, If Not” delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church on November 5, 1967.

i definitely am not stepping into anything heroic next. or a greater cause. it was so defining to work there. but i'm believing that i'm finding something amazing next... i don't so much understand it.


i think i'll learn to screenprint.

or knit.

i'm tired of crying today.

end of babble.