Thursday, March 26, 2009

They are all No Codes!

As an oncology(cancer)nurse in the states, if a patient or family agreed that they didn't want to be resuscitated, they signed a paper saying that they were "no code" status. Which means that if they stop breathing and their heart stops, no CPR, or resuscitation measures would be taken.

Most patients in the states want all measures taken to resuscitate them. When a patient that is not a "no code" stops breathing, and/or their heart stops; a code is called. A team of nurses and doctors rush to the scene and do everything possible to bring this person back.

I was on the ward today at the Government Hospital, visiting a couple of our breast cancer patients. One of them had a mastectomy a couple of weeks ago, the other one was getting ready to go to (theater)surgery, to have her mastectomy today.

While we were visiting, I heard a lady crying out "MaMa!","MaMa!". I thought that it was someone having a nightmare or talking out of their head! Then I saw a woman standing by the bedside of an older woman. She was shaking the woman and crying out for her to wake up. The older woman was limp and not breathing. She had a large bandage on her neck. I realized that the older woman had just passed away and her daughter was calling for her in a panic! Finally, the nurses made their way, casually, not hurriedly, to the patient and pulled her daughter away. They layed
the patient down flat and covered her head with the sheet, and closed the curtain around her bed.

"I thought, is that all, is that it, you are not going to do anything else?" I wanted to run and get the crash cart, call a code, and try to save her. I looked around the room full of patients. The wards here just have bed after bed, no individual rooms. None of the other patients were reacting at all. Their faces were blank, no emotion! I was amazed! It was as if nothing was happening!

I asked the nurse that was visiting the patients with me if they ever try to resuscitate patients when they stop breathing, intubate them,or try to do CPR? She said, no usually they can't even get a doctor to come and they don't have the proper equipment to intubate them.

This was a HUGE REALITY CHECK as to where I am working! I realized that they are all No Codes here! How very sad! I also realized that they see death so much that it doesn't affect them unless it is their own family. I was able to go back to the ward later and I saw the daughter sitting in the hall on the floor. I told her I was so sorry for her loss and asked her if I could pray with her. She said yes and I prayed and gave her a big hug! I asked her if she knows Jesus and she said yes.
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