We transported a 94 year-old woman today from a nursing home to the hospital, priority five, just a transfer. She had a possible lower leg fracture and needed an x-ray to confirm it.
She mewled in pain like a kitten when we sheet lifted her from the bed to the cot. She gazed blankly at us – the lights were on, but nobody was home. It was like that for the whole transfer to and from the hospital. I had to leave the room when the staff moved her leg to get the x-ray plate in position. I couldn't take the sounds. It made me want to cry. Lots of things in this job make me want to cry.
She kept trying to put things in her mouth and gum them, like a newborn. The cot strap buckle, the edge of the velour blanket, my hand. I sat there, watching her as the ambulance bounced and swayed down the road. Thoughts running through my head.
We wouldn't do this to our pets. We wouldn't let them suffer like this. Why do we insist on keeping people alive when there is nothing left? When all that is left is pain and suffering...
This is just one version of what is going to happen to all of us. I just hope to God it doesn't happen to me.
It reminds me of an old joke: “I want to die in my sleep, like my grandfather. Not screaming in fear like his passengers.”