Sunday, December 03, 2006

Why won't they say yes?

I just got finished reading this post at The Wait and the Wonder. (Spoiler alert at the end.) And I'm already fried from 36 hours on triage and a grueling holiday call period last week. I think it really started 2 weeks ago, when I had to deal with some serious crazy family dynamics. Think: lovely, peripheral family, divorced spouse, over protective big brother and a crazy daughter. Now, I almost never say that someone's grief is dysfuntional. Get angry, scream at me, fall out on the floor and pull your hair out, whatever-I understand. But this girl was UPSET. She spent most of the 12 hours I was onsite IN BED with her mother. In the hospital bed with the patient, her mother, who was brain dead and intubated. I can only imagine what the funeral was like. Anyway, she did not consent, even though her mother had indicated on her license that she wanted to be an organ donor. And in my state, that's first person consent, all legal-like, if we chose to pursue, which we did not. She said, "if my mother knew how it would upset me, she would have changed her mind." Mmmm. I think that when you finally meet your mom in heaven, you might have some 'splainin' to do.

Did a case on Turkey Day. Which went great, except that I'm still craving a real Thanksgiving Dinner and if anyone wants to come and cook me a belated one, I'm all for it. Love Monkey and the Teenager did make a to-die-for corn bread pudding with cranberry sauce a la Alton Brown that was amazing. And sweet potatoe pie. But I'm still craving some turkey and gravy. Oh, well, at least I'm off for Christmas, so I'll quit bitching.

This weekend I get to be the person sending the coordinators hither and yon. I was all psyched, thinking that I'd still get to go to the office party, all cool-like, what with wearing my Bluetooth and all, and just triage while boogying down. Unfortunately, the case that was in progress hit several snags, not the least of which was a) no one at the hospital wanted to do the actual pronouncement and b) I had no recovering surgeon. While we did manage to cross those bridges, by the time I got done with all the phone tag it was too late and I was too pooped to party. I heard the food was mediocre and the booze watered down, but still.

Two more no consents this weekend. One woman who died actually had a mom who was an organ donor and told her husband that she never wanted that done to her. So, wishes known, no consent. A young girl also died today, her mom didn't want her cut up, no consent.

I feel like I may be becoming too desensitized to dead people. We were watching CSI Thursday night, the one where the dead people talk, and Grissom is teaching a class of(I guess) new CSI's and I realized that I have been around a lot of dead people. I asked Love Monkey, (also a nurse) "How many dead people have you been around?" He thought for a moment. "I don't know, several dozen." Take my word for it, when you start hanging around with corpses, you realize that they have as much to do with the living person as a tin can has to its contents.

So, (and here's the spoiler) I read about Jackson's death from biliary atresia and I just think: why don't people donate? I just want to say to people, look-your body is going to turn into a puddle of goop whether you like it or not. Embalmed-still goop, just later rather than sooner. I realize it's a gruesome thought no one wants to think about, but it's still true. So please, please donate your organs. Don't let the gift go to the grave.


Susan Palwick said...

This must be so incredibly frustrating for you. I never understand people who don't consent to donation, even or especially for religious reasons. Aren't we all called to work in the service of life?


Mother Jones RN said...

I told my kids that if they didn't donate my organs, I would haunt them and make their lives a living hell. They smiled and said I already make their lives a living hell, so what's the difference. Little smarty pants. I wonder where they get that from? Hehe *snort*

I don't know why you haven't pulled all your hair out by now.
Your job must be very frustrating.


Judy said...

Just how unethical is it to consent for a spouse or kid who doesn't want to be a donor? I can't get a rational reason out of them why they feel that way, except that they're all concerned (unreasonably, IMO) that someone might rush to judgement so to speak.

Not as if you haven't heard THAT before, I suppose. I hope I'm never in that position, because, among other reasons, it would be really hard for me to follow their actual wishes on this.

angie said...

I second that....donate your organs people!!! I know that I am so thankful every single day to the family of the 17 year old that said "yes" and gave the gift of life to my 7 month old daughter. She is such a little miracle, and a living example of why organ donation is a very good thing! Thanks to you for the job that you's unfortunate that there are still many people out there who are uneducated in this area.

Anonymous said...

I had a bone marrow transplant 7 years ago to treat leukemia (aml). I have been told that I cannot be a donor (of blood or organs!). I really WANT to be! Is this true? Or do I need to keep looking for a place that will take them?

TC said...

Well, Judy, let me ask you this-how ethical is it NOT to donate your loved one's organs when you know that they wanted to? The real truth is that you have no control over what's going to happen to you after you die. You may want to be stuffed and propped up in the front parlor, but if your family ain't agreeing to it, it ain't happening.

Compounding this particular situation is that in 17 states, if you sign your driver's license to be a donor it is a legal, 1st person consent, but I haven't seen too many cases where OPO's have fought the family. (Well, one, in Oklahoma recently, I'll have to get back to you on that).

And thanks for all the support. I really do love what I do. Perhaps I should write a happy story soon.

SuperStenoGirl said...

Don't feel so bad about Thanksgiving. Us Canadians had it back in October and even then I didn't get any turkey - living on one's own does suck sometimes. I think I had hot dogs so I suppose, depending on the brand it MIGHT have had turkey in them. Now that I think of it - I don't want to know.

Anyways - maybe to make up for it through Christmas you could have Turducken. I hear though it's hell to prepare. And expensive. And greasy since the duck doesn't get crisp what with it being inside the turkey. But all the same - you could make up for the Turkey day missed with it.

As for organ donors - have to agree with you. Why NOT donate? It's not like you're going to be needing them after you die and they'll just turn to more fertilizer for those nasty graveyard weeds.

KVH said...

Thank you so much for your blog. I took to my computer this morning, pissed off about the usual stupid stuff (can't get my car inspected, kids sick with colds, not enough sleep, my finals in nursing school coming up) and started reading your entry, linked to Jackson's, and realized, oh, christ, my life is a cakewalk. Why can't I remember that when I need to?

Lynne said...

It's late at night here in Australia, but I have just read your post about Jackson and the whole no consent problem.

I'll be back tomorrow to read more of your fascinating blog.

In 2004 an organ donor saved my baby, just in time. It's a daily, joyful buzz for me to see my now-robust girl. I don't think the wonder of it wears off.

Thankyou for your important writing. Oh, and I'm also an avid reader of The Wait and the Wonder.


Jenny-up the hill said...

Thanks for this son, Gus died this past May awaiting a liver/small bowel transplant. He was 16 mos old.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous, who would like to be a donor... While you may not be able to be an organ donor with today's medicine, you might be able to be one tomorrow. Very few people will be in the circumstance to give the gift of life. But just about anyone can be a tissue donor. You can give someone blind the gift of sight, help a burned man survive, etc.