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“Hey Joe, you still smell! How about that?”

May 13, 2011

here are a few stories:

Patients in our psych ward frequently complain to staff that they hear babies crying at night and one patient even saw baby footprints on the ceiling of her room one night – well, the OB department used to be in that space decades ago and is now in a totally different building across town (we have 2 different campuses to our hospital)

My best friend’s grandfather died unexpectedly when we were in high school and her older sister, Lise, was very sad because she was 7-8 mos pregnant and her child would have been his first great-grandchild. A few weeks after the baby was born, Lise’s husband was working 11-7 and she had the baby in a bassinet at the foot of her bed. She woke up suddenly and saw a figure at the end of the bed looking into the bassinet and she called “Randy (her husband) – is that you?” The figure looked up and she saw it was her grandfather, wearing the old plaid cap that he always wore and he said in his Scottish accent “It’s ok – it’s just me, Granda. I just wanted to see my great-grandchild. He’s just beautiful.” And then he disappeared. The baby never woke up at all through all of this.

I had a patient die slowly on my shift, surrounded by family. At various times of the day, he would call out names of family members who were already dead and comment on them in some way. For example, he called out “Hey Joe, you still smell! How about that?” and he started laughing. (Apparently, Uncle Joe had arthritis really bad in his shoulders and used to slather himself with some really strong smelling ointment) All day, he did this without opening his eyes. It freaked the family out at first, but they got used to it and I think it helped them let go of him because they knew he was going to be going to where family was.

My mother’s father was comatose and dying. My parents were living literally on the other side of the country (in Canada) and they were hauling butt to get home before he died. (On a side note, my grandfather was very fastidious and always made sure his hair was just so and he was clean-shaven his whole life – which wasn’t always easy to pull off since he was a logger and worked away from home for weeks a time in logging camps.) Anyway, my parents got to the hospital and my grandmother told him who had come – my mother is the oldest but the only one who didn’t live local. He hadn’t opened his eyes for days but he opened his eyes to look at my parents and then closed them again. He lived through the night and in the morning, the nurses came in and cleaned him up and he hadn’t been shaved in a day or two so they did that too. 5-10 minutes after he was cleaned up, with my grandmother and all 6 kids around him, he opened his eyes, nodded and died. I think he was waiting for my mom and also didn’t want to die unshaven.

– Posted by MamaTheNurse; Allnurses

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