Monday, April 26, 2010

Brenda - Last Hour

©Karen A J Rinehart

I decided that standing at the nurses station waiting was going to be awhile so, I sat down in one of the chairs behind the desk listening to Brenda and the LPN talk.

The next words I hear coming from Brenda's room are from the RN, "Brenda, raise your head. Come on, sweetie, raise your head for me." My heart sank. Brenda was unresponsive, again. The RN stepped from the room saying, "I'm going to try one more thing before calling a Code." I was crushed! Within a few moments, the RN stepped out of the room, picked up the phone, dialed a few numbers and said, "Code Blue! Code Blue, ICU 402! Code Blue." My legs just about gave out on me.

I took my cell phone from my pocket and called my husband and told him, "Brenda has coded again. They are working on her." Before I could ask him to come and be with me, he said, "I'm on my way, Sweetie. I'll be right there."

Within a few minutes, Fire Rescue exited the elevator that was right by Brenda's room. The two fire fighters were two that I had helped train when they became EMT's. The look of shock on their faces was unbearable for me. Moments later, the crew from EMS arrived. The paramedic asked me on the way to Brenda's room, "Why are you here?" I said, "That's Brenda in there." The EMT-I with the paramedic said, "We'll take care of her, Karen."

Standing there at the nurses station, I could hear all that was going on. The ER doctor arrived along with several nurses. A nurse that I didn't know stepped from Brenda's room and made a phone call and within minutes another nurse was there. He walked up to me and said, "Is that your mother?" I answered, "No! It's my baby sister." Realizing why he was there, I told him he didn't have to stay with me that I was ok. He asked if he could call someone for me and I told him, "No, my husband is on the way.

With tears flowing down my face, I asked the nurse if I could have a chair to sit in. He got me one immediately. Just as I was about to sit down in the chair, Brenda's roommate arrived. I told the nurse that I couldn't deal with her right now and could he show her to the waiting room and let her know that I would be there as soon as I could. I also told him to let her know what was happening.

The ER doctor, whom I worked with when I brought a patient into the hospital when I was working the ambulance, came out of Brenda's room and made a phone call. He walked to the other side of the nurses station and began to talk in a hushed voice. He was talking to Brenda's regular doctor saying, "We've tried to get her back with no luck. There are three more things, I'd like to try. No, she doesn't have a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate). CPR is ongoing. Yes! She's right here. You want to talk to her? Ok." He walked over to me and told me that he was talking to Brenda's doctor (my doctor, as well) and that he wanted to talk to me on the phone. I said, "Ok." and took the phone.

Doctor told me he was sorry and told me that Brenda was a wonderful lady. He went on to tell me that the ER doctor was going to try three more medications and that CPR was ongoing. I told him I understood. He also advised me that she had been coded for 20 minutes and what did I want to do. Did I want them to call it or continue. "They will continue, Karen, if you want them to." At this point, I told the doctor. Doctor, my head knows with the length of time that she's been in the code, it's time to call it. However, my heart says no, keep trying." His voice cracked as he told me that when the ER doctor had tried the three medications that he would step to the door and look at me. If I nodded that it was ok to call it, he would.

Within a few minutes of my hanging up, the ER doctor stepped to the door. With tears in my eyes and a breaking heart, I nodded to call it. The RN that was with me said he was sorry and the ER doctor came and gave me his condolences as well. My co-workers stepped out to tell me that were sorry, gave me a hug and went back into the room. Fire Rescue came out for a few moments and did the same.

When Fire Rescue was heading back into the room, I told them, "Make her decent, I want to see her." They asked if I wanted to wait until she was back on the bed. I told them now, I would see her again, when she was on the bed but I needed to see her now. I went in to see her and broke down. I had to leave the room.

Just as I walked out, my husband arrived at the hospital. I told him she was gone. He told me he'd make the calls and I stayed by Brenda's room. They came for me and I went and got him. We went in together and said by. The RN that had been in with Brenda asked me the name of the Funeral Home I wanted and told me that they wouldn't take her away until I was ready.

I lost my last immediate family member that day. I also lost the best friend I had my entire life.


  1. OK, now I'm crying. I feel like I was there with you, yet know that I'm not feeling anything compared to what you were feeling then, nor as you wrote this.

    You're an amazing person, Karen, and I consider it an honor for you to be my friend. I love you!

  2. Karen,
    You are a wonderful writer and very brave to write all this down. I felt like I was with you through this ordeal. My heartfelt condolences on the loss of your sister.


  3. Sweetie, my heart aches after reading this. I could not read this when you first posted it, or the other accounts of Brenda's days. It is just too close to what I think of and feel on a regular basis, but I know you understand that all ready.

    You're never alone, Karen. Never!