Many moons ago, I worked on a cancer ward.  I was a new nurse at the time and discovered that one learns phenomenally more on the floor, than the classroom ever provides.  That’s another topic.  Anyways, I was on third shift meaning we started at midnight and finished when everyone else was eating breakfast.  That made rush hour traffic nice, though.  The normal routine was to receive report, then travel around the ward obtaining vitals and checking on anything remaining from the previous shift.  This one particular night, we had a fellow who was DNR and near the end.  My partner and I moved this patient up in the bed and once vitals were finished, I had this impression that I was to go back to be there.  I held his hand and told him it was all right, I was there.  Movement became less and less and I noted a carotid pulse on the right side of the neck.  This slowed, and eventually stopped.  It is a moment I will never forget.  I’m glad I was there to be company at that time.  Well, being a nurse, I started my nursing duties and called for pronouncement and began the cleanup.  The doctor came, instructed me on the particulars of pronouncing someone, finished his duties, and left the body for me to complete care.  Calling hours aren’t the same for me now.  I see a body in a casket, and immediately think “3 rolls Kerlix”.  (Kerlix is a roll of 4″ loosely woven gauze)  Well, I was trying to be nice to the funeral director and used one of those Kerlix rolls to try and tie up the jaw and close the mouth.  After several wraps around the head, I was somewhat, but not completely successful.  At least the mouth was a bit more closed than previously.  I finished cleaning up the rest of the items in the room and told the charge nurse it was ready for family notification and morgue notification.  The nurse came back to me and said, “no.”  I gave a quizzical look.  After all, this wasn’t my first rodeo.  I knew the procedure.  The nurse continued, “You don’t want that to be the last picture the family sees.”  I walked back into the room, this time with aesthetics in mind.  Yes, there was Jacob Marley in the bed, only lacking the chains.  I removed the Kerlix until after the family left.

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