Preview Seven

AANot So Fast

3/25/02 14:08 Nursing Note: “Patient more alert.  Patient is at present unwilling to proceed to surgery. Cardiac surgery, CCU attending in to discuss with pt and family.”

Pam was serious about not consenting to open heart surgery. Although I never once thought about letting her just die, I had to acknowledge her right to refuse, and to recognize her reasons as legitimate. Because of her experiences in nursing and the drawn out hospital deaths of both of our fathers, we had discussed the rights of people to just say no. No more torture, just let me go. She had that right and I had to respect that. But she also had a son and a daughter and the rest of her family and me – and whatever lay ahead she was just going to have to go through it.

She closed her eyes and I left her with her daughter and went out into the hall to tell the surgeon that she will do it, just give me some time.

He looked me in the eye.

“We’re out of time…”

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