I've taken the following story from another journal & hoping Nora won't mind. It was very touching. There are some out there that will truly understand it & there are some that just won't get it...but I wanted to share...
with many different types of family members; who believe a dog is not property you own, but are a component of the family unit.
I walked into SICU at about 0800 on a day that seemed destined to be very gloomy. Like many RNs, I have two careers. I am a staff RN on NSCU and I am also a Procurement Transplant Coordinator (PTC) for One Legacy, our area's Organ Procurement Organization.
On this particular day I wore the hat of PTC when I was called to go to SICU to check on a referral.
In bed 22 I found a 22 year old who was in a horrible car accident and was now showing clinical signs of brain death. While I was completing my assessment on the unit I ran into Rebecca, RN and Chris, MD, who informed me of another patient on the unit who may be considered a potential organ/tissue donor. In bed 24 there was a man in his seventies who was suffering from end stage liver and kidney failure. He was admitted several days prior and had been alert and awake, with esophageal bleeding. Eventually he became confused, disoriented, obtunded, and finally needed to be intubated.
Being an animal person, I wondered if only dog/cat people can understand this man's wish. I have told this story to many people and I can always realize when I am telling it to someone who doesn't have an animal as a part of their family. First I get the "blank face" stare while their eyes gloss over. At that moment I get the sense they are going over their grocery list in their head and not listening to me. Other times I get the "It's just a dog!" routine. It didn't matter to this patient that it "was just a dog"; this was his family…literally, his only family.
Sometimes, your friends may be closer to you than your own family. Rebecca was told by the friends that they were watching the patient's dog and that the dog seemed depressed; not eating, and needing his owner. They said that his dog had been there for him when his wife died. He rarely left his master's side.
Later that day I was called back to SICU. Upon my arrival, I ran into the usual suspects. Dr. Chris and Rebecca were there to give me the latest updates on the three patients who were referred as potential organ/tissue donors. Rebecca also gave me an update on her patient in bed 24. It seems that at around 1500, Dr. Chris suggested that his friends bring in the dog to see the patient and fulfill his last wish. This man was now on two vasopressors and just possibly would not make it through the night.
When I first strolled on to SICU that morning I had no idea what a moving experience my day would turn out to be. As an involved staff member at any hospital you will get to know the people you work closely with very well. It is natural to become "in tune" to other team member's emotions. By the end of this day I could read the compassion and concern on my co-workers faces. SICU had had a difficult and emotional day; three patients became "Withdrawal of Care" status and would expire by the next morning.
Despite this demanding day I noticed that the staff in SICU took time to comfort each other even after they each were emotionally drained from these sad cases. This level of peer support is very hard to achieve and maintain, and it shows what a strong team they have. The staff in SICU demonstrated an example of how to do things right; they weren't required to fulfill a dying man's last wish.