Motor vehicle accident. Intensive care. Emergency surgery. Airlifted. Code blue. Blood STAT. Life support. “Your loved one is in critical condition. We’re doing everything we can.”
You’re a human. What emotions just went through you reading those words? I’m willing to bet there was fear, anger, panic, shock, an urgent need to see them, and (if you allowed yourself to dive deep into your imagination) tears. Why? Because you understand that in those words is a very real possibility that someone could die. That someone you love could be gone forever. There is the possibility that you or someone close to you will have to make decisions that no human wants to ever have to make. You know that if the injured person does survive, it will likely be an incredibly long, and difficult road to healing and recovery and they may never fully recover. Maybe they’ll be paralyzed. Maybe they’ll have a brain injury that inhibits their ability to communicate. Maybe they won’t recognize you. Maybe they’ll be totally fine. But you know, in that moment, that you will be there for them no matter what. No matter how long or painful the journey. No matter who they end up being when they wake up, you’ll stand by them. You’ll love them. You’ll support them.
You watch the doctors and nurses work to understand the severity of the injuries and do whatever it takes to save their life. They allow you to bring in pictures to set around the room. Most of the time, someone is allowed to sit vigil by the bedside or at least be in the waiting room. Family and friends come to support you because you messaged them and said you needed them. People bring you coffee and food and make sure you eat and pee and shower and sleep. Everyone sends you well wishes and good vibes and asks what they can do to help make your life easier. You’re allowed to cry. You’re allowed to be angry. You’re allowed to grieve. You’re allowed to be scared. It’s understandable. It’s acceptable. You get hugs and love and connection. You ask questions and the medical team does what they can to help you understand what is happening and to find some form of peace. They explain the options and follow through on the decisions that the power of attorney makes regarding the plan of care and treatment.
Now imagine instead this scenario.
Mental health patient. Thoughts of suicide. Has a plan. Friend called 911 because they were concerned. “Have a seat. We’ll be with you as soon as we can.”
To be continued…
Dance. Fight. Care.