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by JudyB
Rated: 18+ · Non-fiction · Death · #953941
A real life experience as a CNA
Ken was an elderly gentleman who was terminal. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) had taken its toll on the kindly man, and continual oxygen was a must for him. Even then, any movement left him very winded and short of breath. Yet Ken was always pleasant and rarely complained, voicing only occasional frustration at how limited he was in these final days of his life.

One afternoon upon seeing Ken at the beginning of my shift, I was startled to see how well he looked compared to previous days. His whole countenance was brighter, and his frequent coughing had given him a welcomed respite. I was so happy for him I couldn't resist giving him a big hug. How strange it thus seemed when his nurse and I received our daily "report" and were told he was losing ground fast.

Ken felt so well that day that he even ate supper sitting in a comfortable chair as opposed to eating in bed like he had done since his admission to the Hospice unit a week earlier.

Shortly after supper, he said he'd like to sit up for awhile longer. I happily went about caring for my other patients first, making an occasional stop in his room to check on how he was doing.

While caring for another patient, I was surprised when Ken's nurse came to ask my assistance in helping her and two others get Ken into bed. Four people to help him from the chair to the bed?

Since my previous visit to his room, I learned Ken had lapsed into a state of unconsciousness -- he was totally unresponsive, with pupils fixed and dilated. Ken was indeed quietly and quickly slipping away.

The four of us gently lifted him into his bed and made him comfortable. The reading I got upon taking his blood pressure, a mere 52/36, sadly confirmed the end was very near for him. As he was all alone with no family available, and was so near his time of passing, I wanted very much to stay with him.

Taking his hand in mine, I gently stroked his arm. I told him he was not alone, that I was there with him. At that moment, Ken slowly blinked his eyes, as if to acknowledge that he had heard and appreciated what I was saying to him. Had my reassurances enabled him to respond in that small way? Had they given him a measure of comfort as he prepared to pass through death's door?

I'll never know the answers to those questions, but I'll always be thankful I was privileged to be there for Ken. In my heart, I believe and know that Ken was still capable of hearing me and it truly made my day to be a comfort to him in his final moments of life.

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