UPDATE: One of my readers has pointed out to me that it is a common misconception that juvenile onset diabetes is caused by an excessive intake of sugar, and is concerned that this misconception may have received a boost by this post. Those of us who read medical blogs who have a medical background understand this. Readers who do not may not understand that I am being sarcastic, that sugar intake has nothing to do with causing diabetes. I thought this was a legitimate issue and so I’ve added this update to the post. I appreciate the feedback.
Under protest, of course.
It tasted like horse fodder.
Unless….. you smooshed it all up until it looked like a bowl of twigs, added enough sugar to ensure juvenile onset diabetes and then smothered it in milk, which you wouldn’t drink afterward because little brown shredded wheat things were floating in it.
Now you can become a nurse by eating your Shredded Wheat composed of bite sized, frosted “mini-wheats” in a variety of flavors.
Another nursing tradition gone to the resting place of “Cap and Cape Heaven.”
A CCU is a very different place than any other unit I’ve ever experienced.
Patients would talk to me. They often told me they were going to die. On that exact day.
And they did.
The one thing that the patients found hard to discuss were their “out of body” experiences during codes. This was not a topic that was widely discussed at the time. They were afraid the staff would think they were crazy.
Three patients opened up to me regarding their experiences during the years I worked in the CCU. Here are their stories:
- Patient One was a young middle-aged female, in her early 40s. This was unusual in itself because young women were not a common sight in the CCUs of the late 1970s.
- She had had an MI and had “coded” requiring defibrillation three days before. As I did her morning care, she happened to mention that she had felt she had left her body during that time, had followed a light at the end of which was her deceased uncle. Her uncle informed her that, “….it is not your time. Jeremy will meet you here.” At which point she remembers being back in her room.
- The odd thing? Jeremy was her husband. And he was still alive.
- Patient Two was, again, younger man in his 40s who had had an inferior MI. As I began my evening care, he asked me how many people had died in the hospital last night.
- Now that is not a question I get everyday and I asked him why he wanted to know. “Oh, just curious,” he replied.
- Later he opened up to me and said that last night two of the patient’s “spirits” had come to get him, asking him to come with them. He said they were in the corner of the room. He told them he couldn’t go, his son was a teenager and needed him. They asked three times and then they were gone.
- Patient Two had been defibrillated three times the night before.
- Patient Three haunts me to this day.
- She was not very old, maybe mid 60s and she kept going into unresponsive ventricular tachycardia. She required defibrillation multiple times. I remember standing at the bedside, paddles in hand, while my colleagues worked on her medications and IVs.
- Eventually things settled down and her rhythm stabilized. She called me over the bedside.
- “Do you believe in an afterlife?” she asked. “Interesting question, ” I answered. “Why do you ask?” For the record, I happen to be a Christian with a very strong belief in the afterlife, but I sensed this was not the time to discuss it, so I kept the focus on the patient and her situation.
- What she said next was horrifying. She had been underground, cold, dark and surrounded by dirt, looking out of a coffin. All she could see was her sister’s coffin next to hers. No warmth, no peace. Just coldness.
- Her sister had already passed away.
- I asked her if she felt the need to speak to the hospital chaplain. She said yes.
After I left CCU for the challenges of the ICU, I never heard any more stories of my patients’ experiences with death. Unfortunately in the ER, I will never hear them, as most patients are intubated when coded.
I once described a code as having a tug-of-war with God. Every now and then he lets us win.
I like to think my patients are watching the struggle and appreciate the effort we make on their behalf.
Even if we lose.