Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: SICK (05/09/19)
- TITLE: Mr. Nash’s Adieu
By Stephen Kimball
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The Radiology order stated “intracranial hemorrhage”, a fancy term for bleeding on the brain. I wasn’t sure just what I was going to see when I went to pick up my patient, but to my surprise he was alert, oriented and even able to get up into a wheel chair. Walter Nash was a spry eighty-eight-year-old who had taken a fall three days ago and had been experiencing weakness, headaches, and bouts of dizziness and confusion since. He was in the middle of telling me his history as we pulled up outside of the scan room to wait our turn. After a few seconds, a voice barreled out from behind the curtain of an adjacent room.
“Is that you Mr. Nash? I would recognize that voice anywhere. How are you?”, asked a female in an affectionate tone that I could tell wasn’t quite hitting home with my patient.
After a pause, the voice called out again with great enthusiasm.
“Connie! I use to take care of Miss Leula up until about a year and a half ago.”
“Connie? Oh, yes…I remember.”
“Miss Leula was my favorite patient. I loved that woman; she was a pill! How’s she doin’?”
“We lost her… last December.”
“I’m so sorry” the woman said as she rounded the curtain to place a hand of comfort on Mr. Nash’s shoulder.
“Me too”, he responded. “Sixty-seven wonderful years.”
“Your turn, Mr. Nash. Are you ready?” I interjected. The exam couldn’t wait but my heart was heavy for this man as the two said their goodbyes.
Mr. Nash did indeed have bleeding on the brain from his fall and I knew that he would have to get attention pretty quickly to halt the affects. The hematoma was causing pressure on nearby brain tissue, reducing vital blood flow and slowly killing brain cells. His condition would continue to degrade, and without prompt surgical intervention, the result would most likely be irreversible damage or worse.
As we headed back to the patient’s room, I got the distinct impression that he also sensed the gravity of his circumstances and I couldn’t help but to take the emotional leap into a personal question.
“Do you have family here?”, I asked.
“I have three children. They all live out of town but are on their way here now.”
He didn’t say when they were expected to arrive and I didn’t feel comfortable asking.
“Are you a praying man?” I enquired.
“Oh, yes.”, came his quick reply.
He went on to tell me about being brought up in New York as a Catholic but how he now attended a local Baptist church.
“I’d like to pray with you if that would be okay.”, I said, as he settled back into his bed.
“I would love that.”, he answered.
Walter Nash gripped my hand as if he were holding on for dear life. I prayed without reservation for his healing, comfort and peace and for his children to arrive safely and soon. Lastly, I thanked God for the hope that we shared in Jesus Christ.
With a tear in his eye, he thanked me and soon after was taken up to the floor to await surgery.
The next day when I went to the ICU to check on my prayer partner, he was unresponsive and hooked up to a ventilator. Three people sat quietly in the room, one of whom was at bedside holding his limp hand.
The strength that I had felt in that hand the day before never returned.
Mr. Nash had breathed his last breath on his own.
Based on true events.
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