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In the prior thread about the woman with the feeding tube and the right to die, I mentioned that there was only one person of the thousands of souls I have cared for who "went at his time". I also mentioned that he had an angel in the room with him, but that that was another story.

Since it is Halloween, here's the true story about that man and his angel:

I was working in open heart and taking care of a patient whose respiratory status was doing a slow, downward spiral. Over the course of my 12 hour shift, I put him on nasal cannula (those little nasal prongs) at 2 liters of oxygen, gave him aerosol treatments, gave him chest percussion therapy, induced deep breathing and coughing to clear his lungs, cranked the O2 up to 4 liters, then aerosols, then chest percussion, cough and deep breathe, increase the cannula to six liters, watch him hang there for a while and finally put him on a non-rebreather mask. This was the final step before returning him to a ventilator, so he could rest and the vent can breathe for him.

It was around 4 in the afternoon and I had him sitting up in a chair, deep breathing and coughing and then resting on the nasal cannula. He was tired, but completely oriented, conversant and making sense....until he pointed to his empty bed and said: "You don't see that old boy over there, do you?"

"No", I replied, thinking that he was hallucinating, maybe a lack of oxygen to the brain, most likely just another part of his progressively downward spiral. Then, concerned that maybe he was going to be 'doing what the voices told me to' I asked him if it was telling him anything.

"No" he said in his soft, Southern voice "He don't say much."

"OK, score one for the good guys", I thought as I busied myself with worldly thoughts of his crappy lung function. "At least he's calm and I don't have to worry about him acting nuts."

Time went by, I returned him to his bed, cranked up the O2, put him on the nonrebreather mask and notified the cardiac surgeon of the events of the last several hours and my interventions.

My patient smiled up at me "You really don't see him sitting there, do you?" pointing to the foot of his bed. No, I did not. But I did see a patient who was calm and quiet - more than that I really didn't want to know.

The family arrived at 7 pm, as I was going off shift. I explained everything to the wife and told her that it was very likely that we would put her husband on a ventilator that night, to not be afraid, that the machine would breathe for him and he would be able to rest.

Three hours later the patient CARDIAC - not respiratory - arrested. Meaning that his heart, which we had just fixed, which had excellent blood supply and pumping function, simply stopped beating for no reason. Quite simply, it was his time. All of our vigilance and all of our resources could not change that.

The code team was led by the best doc I've ever known, bar none. This man was triple certified by the time he was 34 years old in anethesia, critical care and internal medicine. None of our resuscitation measures worked and the patient died for apparently no reason at all.

I deeply regret the missed opportunity. I should have asked him to tell me what he saw, describe it in detail. I do believe that if the "old boy" was someone who my patient had known who had already passed away, he would have told me. I am certain that the "old boy" was an angel, sent to help my patient onto the next part of his journey. There was never any fear, distress or upset...just a very calm, peaceful acceptance by my patient.

BTW: This was a Christian family with deep faith. So much so that I went to the funeral home to tell them about what the patient had seen and entrusted to me. They were home, having dinner at the time and the funeral director gave me directions to their house. They were relieved and deeply comforted by my visit and our time together.

"Unless you're sharing what you have, you don't have as much as you think you do."
"Unless you're sharing what you have, you don't have as much as you think you do."
Original Post

Your "angel" was great!! Such an experience has to be a life lesson.

Your closing sentence really struck me. You said, "Unless you're sharing what you have, you don't have as much as you think you do."[/QUOTE]

I am always in deliberation about my narrow focus of the declaration of identity. I don't hesitate to make my declaration known, but I do resist the temptation to try to (openly/aggressively) try to persuade others to my conclusion.

That sentence is worthy of motto status. Thank you.


Jim Chester

You are who you say you are. Your children are who you say you are.
Thanks, JWC. I've always found that when I give with an open heart and open hand, it comes back to me a thousandfold. One of God's wonderful paradoxes....we receive the most when we share the most. Those who nurture a generous heart will always have plenty. Those of a stingy and mean spirit will never have enough.

I am also intrigued by your motto. Tell me more about you came up with it.

"Unless you're sharing what you have, you don't have as much as you think you do."
Thank you, for asking.

This will be "old stuff" for many on the board. So, I will keep to the point.

Around 1994, I realized I was not able to give to my children any more than my parents were able to give to me. Of course, I already knew this. It was just that the fullness of the meaning hit anew.

My grandchildren were being told by their teachers, and others, that they were "multicultural", and/or biracial. Both descriptions were true. But they were being told this as though these descriptors also defined WHO they are. I didn't have anything different to tell them.

Of course, I could tell them are "black", and that is WHO they are. But it struck me that too is only a descriptor of WHAT they are rather than WHO they are.

That began a task of trying to find out why I didn't know WHO I was. Everything I knew, and everything I could find, told me only WHAT I was. I did discover/realized that everyone who knows WHO they are is acting on their own authority.

I ultimately defined, and declared and reestablished my ancestral nationality as an African American. An American who is African American.

When your children need to know WHO they are they come to you. Usually, first. Certainly, you are their ultimate authhority. When a child is asked, "Who said?" That child replies with finality, "My momma said." Or "My daddy said." That's final for that child. That makes it final for everyone else.


Jim Chester

You are who you say you are. Your children are who you say you are.

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