“You’ll like the nurse today; he’s dynamite!” That was the message my Dad sent me ona Monday. Little did we know, that dynamite nurse would give us the greatest gift in our hardest moments over the next two days. Tuesday morning, my Mom went into V Fib with JJ miraculously at her bedside. He watched her change clinically, and responded to help her, exactly like he was trained to do. A code was called, Mom was resuscitated and sent to the ICU.
Following, it was realized that my mom was a DNR. JJ had to make a difficult call to my Dad, letting him know that the love of his life and wife of 48-years coded and was now sedated and intubated in the ICU. When my Dad called me, he said, “Maybe JJ forgot about the DNR, or he didn’t know… but it doesn’t matter.” Dad was right – Mom was still with us – and at that time, it didn’t matter at all to us.
JJ followed up with us that day during his shift, both by phone and also coming to see us and Mom and in the ICU. Mom even waved to him and smiled. She really liked JJ. He apologized profusely to us for not honoring Mom’s wishes. Through our tears, we thanked him. My sister stopped him and said, “Hey, can I give you a hug?” JJ gave us the time and opportunity to see my Mom again, be with her in the ICU, and eventually say our goodbyes. My two sisters do not live locally. In fact my youngest sister was on a plane back to the U.S. from Qatar where she was working for 7-weeks when Mom coded. JJ’s response to my Mom’s V Fib gave my sisters the chance to come and see her.
Mom went into asystole, (and recovered without intervention,) a few weeks before. Following that episode, it became clear to us that medical management was becoming harder and Mom’s heart was truly giving out. Our family made the decision to move forward with comfort care for Mom and made the decision to compassionately extubate her later that morning. She wanted to be a DNR, did not want the ET tube, and the four of us realized we needed to put her first. Mom’s wishes were honored – just 26 hours later – because JJ gave us time. Had he not gone into action and led the resuscitation of Mom that morning, I believe our experience of losing her would look much different. We all, and everybody we have told about JJ, are so thankful for him. He’s an angel to us. He gave us the gift of goodbye.