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Here or Up Above

December 1, 2011

I recently cared for an elderly patient awaiting a risky procedure. The procedure, if successful would reduce uncomfortable symptoms this patient was experiencing. The patient and family members were on board with the procedure and the patient was hopeful for a positive outcome, but had also accepted the reality of the situation.

It was later brought to my attention that the patient was documented as a full code status. A full code status means that in the event that something goes wrong during your stay in the hospital, the team will do everything in their power to bring you back, whether it’s through a ventilator to help you breathe, shocking your heart, etc. This patient had expressed serious concern over their status and desperately wanted to be DNR (do not resuscitate). At first this confused me because the patient was electing to have such a risky procedure done. Even so, the patient still wanted the procedure, but stated if an undesired outcome were to happen during the procedure, they by no means wanted to be kept alive.

After consulting with my preceptor and charge nurse I quickly contacted the patient’s physician and explained the situation to them. The physician came and assessed the patient and after talking with the patient, changed the code status in the computer to what the patient wanted. After this happened, the patient and family thanked me repeatedly while grabbing my hands with tears in their eyes. My patient looked me in my eyes, reached for my arms, and as my patient gently shook both my arms they said, “Dear you are something, I love you, you’re an angel.” For that moment in time my connection with my patient and their family members was very strong. We all held hands for probably only 15 seconds or so, but it felt like minutes. This experience validated what I already knew about nursing, that it is so important to advocate for your patients. Your patient’s wishes are one of the most important aspects of the care you as a nurse will provide.

 I don’t know the outcome of the procedure, and I’m uncertain if I ever want to find out.  I can still hear the voice of my patient in my head so clearly and witnessing the most positive outlook of my patient will always be a lesson for me to look on the bright side regardless of the predicted outcome of a situation. Whatever the outcome turned out to be, I can only hope that the patient is comfortable and at peace whether they are still with us or up above.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Elyn permalink
    December 1, 2011 10:18 pm


  2. December 2, 2011 7:52 pm

    Wow! Very interesting. Great that you have ended up in such a noble profession.

  3. Joy Schekter permalink
    December 5, 2011 2:01 pm

    this note brought tears to my eyes! Thank you for writing about your experiences. You are a wonderful, caring nurse!

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