Full Code

The patient is a full code

Alert and orientated times zero.

He is in critical condition

One vital sign away from the ICU or death

It can go either way.

Diagnosis: a hemorrhagic stroke from untreated hypertension

His eyelids open halfway

It’s an involuntary neuro effect

The pupils are wide and black

They stay still

I move the head carefully because he’s vented

It’s his lifeline…

Making him high risk.

A peg tube is in the stomach for nutrition.

His toes amputated from diabetic neglect.

Abdominal bruising from heparin injections.

And the staff has to do everything to keep him alive

Despite his poor quality of life because…

After all he’s a full code.

It’s the wife and adult kids

Who think he’ll get better.

They love him

Can’t let him go

Despite a grim medical prognosis.

Can we say denial?

The wife sits vigil everyday

Occasionally talks to him

“Oh honey, come on talk to me

“Squeeze my hand

“Do you want to watch some television?”

The call light goes on,

He has stooled again for the fourth time today.

It’s the C-diff that’s causing it.

The wife leaves the room—she can’t watch.

It takes three aides to turn his 400 pound body

On a bariatric bed to clean him.

He is dead weight, the arms flop

As the respiratory tech keeps the three day trach intact.

We all complain

Why is this guy full code?

He’s not getting better

He’s going to die in this facility.

We are done; the wife comes back in…

She asks “did we see his eyes open?

Did we hear him speak?

Oh wait, he’s in pain, he told me so.”

I say I’ll call his nurse

After all he’s a full code.


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