Monday, January 25, 2010

Compassion?

A family member stayed overnight, sitting vigil next to her mother as she lay dying.
I administered the morphine as needed, every two hours. As a result, she remained calm and comfortable overnight.
When the next shift arrived, I gave report on her changes overnight, so as to perhaps predict when the resident might finally pass. The death process can follow predictable stages.
I told them that another daughter was flying in and expected at 11 p.m. tonight.
The unit manager quipped, "Well, it will be too late. You suppressed her breathing with so much morphine, so she'll be dead any minute."
She was not in the final stages of dying. There was no reason to suspect that she was drawing her last breaths as we spoke. Throughout the night, I suppressed her thrashing and panting while relieving the painful torture of slowly suffocating to death. Her emphysema and heart failure had suppressed her breathing for years and was finally doing her in. I don't feel that withholding the morphine would result in a longer life. Withholding the morphine would definitely result in prolonged suffering.
When I am upon my death bed, wracked in pain, fighting for each insufficient breath, please ease my suffering with morphine.

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