Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Totally Unnatural

My friend and fellow nurse, Elise, asked me to come into one of the patient rooms with her to help prepare her patient's eyes for cornea donation (actually, the word used is "harvesting" but that just seems too grotesque and industrial).

"She died from thyroid cancer with mets," Elise explained as we entered the dimly lit room. The family had said their goodbyes and gone home. Unthinkingly, my hand flitted to my own thyroid. Although her body was already cold, the woman didn't really look dead. I kept waiting for her chest to rise. It didn't.

I asked what the woman's name was, and Elise told me. Even though we knew somewhere deep down that she couldn't hear us, we still explained what we were about to do. Holding her eyelids open gently, I watched as Elise instilled saline in the woman's already cloudy eyes, and then I taped the eyelids closed. I fought the temptation to wipe what looked like salty tears from her cheeks.

"Should we put another blanket on her?" Elise asked.
"No. She's gone," I said.

We left her with her knitted hat on her head, her hands folded. Chest unmoving.

Death is not natural.

1 comment:

Stef said...

this brought back memories of when my Grandma died in our home. She came to live with us when she was diagnosed with Liver cancer, that spread all over her body. It was when I saw her die that I realized exactly what death is. And it was hard to cope and deal with. It is very unnatural. You're right.

This post made me cry... and not many do.

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