Feb 17, 2012

The Light

This is one of my very favorite patient stories.

I am in the ICU right now, working with very sick patients. This 94 year old gentleman came in to us hypotensive and tachycardic, and needed a lot of fluids. We decided to put in an IV in the jugular vein, to allow high volume fluids to go in. I explained what we would be doing, and that he needed to have a drape over his face in order to maintain sterility during the procedure. He agreed, and masked and gowned, I covered him up with the drape and began the procedure.

It was a little dark in the room, with only the flourescent overhead lights on, so the attending reached over and turned on the bright surgical spotlight so I could see better. All of a sudden, under the drape, the old man begins screaming"I SEE THE LIGHT!! I SEE THE LIGHT! OH LORD JESUS DON'T TAKE ME I AIN'T READY TO GO YET!"

"Sir. SIR!!" I reach out and touch his shoulder. "We ALL see the light, sir. It's okay. We turned it on to see better for the procedure." He is wary. I tell him, now we are going to turn off the light, okay? He nods. I then tell him, "sir, we are going to turn the light back on. I just want you to know it's me turning on the light, and everything is okay."

He is calmer, and I place the line. He gets his fluids, and gets better. Apparently this 94 year old man's got a lot more living to do.

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