Tuesday 29 January 2019

(I Want to Die in my Sleep.)

There it is (still),
the knowing of impending doom,
the alarm, the dread,
the deep involuntary gasps the sighs,
the cold on every laboured breath,
the knowing that you’re going to die.

And then,
the slowing in your thumping chest,
the heartbeats skipped,
the foggรจd head,
the terror when the heartbeats stop,
the horror when you know you’re dead
as you ‘wait the bliss of brainstem death.

Anna :o]

Sarah prompt at dVerse is that of HARBINGER – it sent my brain into overdrive and I thank you for lifting a writer’s block of 3½ month duration Sarah.

‘Harbingers of doom’ reminded me of my time at work – I am retired now – where eventual death of the residents’ was a constant (as death is to us all).  A small proportion of the residents had dementia, the remainder enduring mental health problems.

There is a strong belief in medical circles that all folk have a right to know they are dying, whether this knowledge is helpful or not…  In my place of work we didn’t go along with this, judging whether this should be so on the knowledge of our residents’ ability to cope with this bad news.  Some knew (instinctively) anyway and were filled with either peace or dread.

In this respect I do so remember Adrian.  He was a very nasty man and one could do nothing but dislike him.  He was (also) a person who instinctively knew that death was coming.   (It was the practice in our home that if residents had no known next-of-kin, we would sit with them constantly until death –for no-one should die alone.)  Adrian had no known NOK so I sat with him for most of the night.  He was so scared and knowing instinctively that he was dying; he became very timid and frightened.

Throughout that night I would constantly tell him I loved him, what a nice person he was and kissed him on the forehead.  He was so grateful for the attention – but gratitude was not what I sought – and would say:  Thank you pet.  (I like to think that constant staff attention brought him some sort of peace,)

Although the details were different, this is a scenario I encountered many times, even with residents who had severe dementia.    It was as if impending death suddenly gave these lovely folk insight and they were filled with terror,

On a more personal note, this occurred with my mother-in-law.  Her children (including my husband) impressed upon the medical team that she should never know (she was dying) as she would not be able to cope with it.  However a well-intentioned doctor, knowing that my mother-in-law was Catholic, decided she had a right to know – so she could receive the last rites – so took it upon her self to inform (her) she was dying.  My mother-in-law, upon receiving this information, became immediately agitated and had to be removed to a single room as she was distressing other patients.  (In fact it was a relative of one of these patients that informed of the doctor’s (I’m sure) well-intentioned catastrophic intervention.  The doctor never informed us herself.)

No-one should die in terror for a doctor’s beliefs…

Image:  courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Author:  unknown, but presumed to be Kirtap