Saturday, June 18, 2011

Memories...

It's not uncommon for realistic families to allow stricken loved ones to die. Sometimes it involves taking them off machines, at others it just means stopping medications.

Years ago I had an older gentleman who'd had a massive stroke, and the family didn't want to have anything done. As always, the question of "how long will he go on?" came up, which is very hard to predict.

Because of the size of the stroke, and him developing brainstem herniation, I guessed about 24-48 hours.

Literally, before I'd finished THAT VERY sentence, he collapsed over to his right and the monitor went flat.

The daughter looked at me, stunned.

All I could say was "And sometimes it's sooner."

22 comments:

Cro Magnon said...

There's even a funny side to death... on occasions!

Anonymous said...

Always dangerous to answer that question ... and impossible to avoid.

Maha said...

Eeek! Hope the family wasn't too traumatized.

Anonymous said...

Excellent. Never doubt the power of Dr. Grumpy.

Slave to ungrateful lawyers said...

after that story, I'm starting to think you're really Michael Palin or John Cleese.

Anonymous said...

Today we say goodbye to Mr. Stroke, who possessed a loving heart, a devoted family, and impeccable comic timing.

Teri said...

While it's funny, it's also very sad. I hope the family was able to cope.

Crazy Newt said...

I know, were it my family, we'd wind up joking around about it after a while.

clairesmum said...

the patient gets the last 'word'!! love it!

arzt4empfaenger said...

Just wow! Situational comedy at it's best (and tragically sad, too, of course)!

Anonymous said...

Dr Grumpy there have been times when your patient's family insisted on continuing care, on prolonging life, instead of allowing their loved one to die. I remember you discussing one such case in a post. But have you ever had the opposite happen? When a patient's family insisted in stopping care when you thought it should be continued?

Anonymous said...

Am I horrible if I think that's funny and hope I can make just as perfectly timed of an exit myself?

Hopefully I'll have enough faculty to pop off with one last "Hey Ya'll, watch this!"

Grumpy, M.D. said...

Anon 921- Yes. Once.

Anonymous said...

can you tell us what happened?

EZkeeper said...

Ah, yes, in comedy (and life) timing is everything.

No one wants to die, but thank you Dr. Grumpy . . .

Because if I could choose such as thing, I now know how I’d like to “shuffle of this mortal coil”

Just like your patient did.
Truly an almost near perfect way to depart this world.

What would make it perfect?

For my cell phone to go off, just as the monitors flatlined.

My ring tone?
Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”

“For life is quite absurd,
And death's the final word.
You must always face the curtain with a bow!
Forget about your sin -- give the audience a grin,
Enjoy it -- it's the last chance anyhow!”


Love your blog, Doc!
Thanks for the giggle.
-EZ

Marie said...

"Dying is easy, comedy is hard." Yet this gentleman managed to pull off both at once. Bravo!! And farewell. I hope his life was as good as his death.

Anonymous said...

for years every time i go into the hospital they ask me if i have a living will ... i've gone over with it with my family and don't want to be on unnecessary life support.
this guy died with dignity and if he knew how well he timed it ... he probably got a chuckle or two himself. hopefully, i can time mine that well and i get the last laugh.
go mr. stroke go!

pharmacychick said...

Nice Recovery however....

Jacqueline said...

Somehow, reading this made me smile, despite my family's current situation. My uncle had a stroke back in November...was recovering well...had another stroke on the opposite side of the brain last month, and we are at the point now where he has been taken off of life support and is at home to pass in hospice care. I hope his passing is timed as well as this one...and may he rest in peace when it does come.

The Orange Jeep Dad said...

I chuckled at that comment aloud, then my brain said "hey, that wasn't very nice." I gave myself a timeout.

Anonymous said...

This has happened to me as well. Then I dictate the H&P "and on exam the patient was dead, with no respirations, ..."

Dr. Bob

MarcW said...

I'm sure it was embarrassing for you, but this gentleman is now my SHORDURPERSAV.

I, too, would like my last act to be making somebody look absolutely ridiculous, albeit in a harmless way. If you gotta go, go with a smile.

 
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