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Pink Slips (draft) (standard:drama, 765 words)
Author: BENTLINKAdded: Nov 12 2011Views/Reads: 2160/0Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Another way of looking at nurses and what it cost to be one.

Mary the newest member of Medical Saints 3rd floor west staff was
looking over patient charts when she noticed a few had letter sized 
pink sheets with hand written notations as their last page. 

Mary turned half around from the chart desk and asked head nurse Martha
Worth “What is with these pink sheets with notes at the back of some 

Martha gave Mary a soft sad smile.  “I was wondering when you would pick
up on those.  If you check the front of each of those charts you will 
find a DO NOT RESUSCITATE label.  The pink sheets, everybody here calls 
them pink slips, you know just like the slip you get when you're losing 
your job.  I know this will seem cold but they only come into use when 
we are about to loose a patient.  Violet one of the hospices nurses 
came up with the idea a few months back and we adopted it for use on 
this floor.  Read some of the notes and then we can talk about how you 
will learn to use the pink slips.” 

Mary turned back to the charting desk and selected one of the several
charts with a big yellow D. N. R. label.  The attached pink slip had 
several neat notes each in a different hand.  The top most entry read.  
Still born daughter spring 1950.  The second entry in blue ink by a 
different hand stated Mother, Father, older sister Jane gone ahead. 

What the hell is going on Mary wondered this is morbid why keep notes
like these?  The last thing a gravely ill person needed was to be 
reminded of loosing a baby or the death of family members.  Bring up 
pain filled memories of a dead infant to a struggling patient could 
only be called cruel and inhumane. 

Martha pushed a desk chair to a position alongside Mary at the charting
desk and in a soft voice said, “I know after reading some of the pink 
slips you must think we have all taken leave of our senses, but before 
passing final judgment trust that we have the patient's best interest 
at heart.  Three West gets mostly dying patients, the ones who have no 
chance of recovery.  These people are all special to nurses because we 
do what nurses have done through the ages.  We comfort with back rubs 
and pain medications, we place cool hands and cloths on fevered heads 
and listen to heartbreaking stories of regret.  We don't cry where the 
patient can see.  When the time finally comes for these poor souls to 
die we are where nurses have always been when needed, there at the bed 
side holding their hands.” 

Mary thought about Martha's words for a time and was about to ask what
about the pink sheets when Martha began to explain. 

“Some of our dying patients pass in their sleep or are in comas when
their time comes.  Still other patients have family members at their 
bedsides, comforting them and assuring them it will be ok to die.  The 
pink slips are for that limited remaining few, who have no family or 
friends at hand when the time to pass grows near.  The slips are for 
this few who are fully conscious and aware that death is close at hand 
but out of habit, fear or because of pure animal instinct continue 
fighting desperately to stay alive.” 

Mary balls her hands into fist and half raises out of her chair “I'm
sorry but I can't see how it could be of any help to bring up all those 
painful things to a person at a time like that!” 

“But it does Martha insist.  It lets them relax and stop struggling.  It
seems all they need to end the fight for this life are their own unique 
reminders.  These special few just need our help to look forward to 
rejoining their lost loved ones.  Maybe it's the stillborn child they 
never got to watch grow, or the husband that forever needed them to 
help find his keys or a reminder they once traded clothes with a 
sister.  All I know for certain is when we talk to a dying person about 
the people in their lives they tell us many things including what needs 
to be written on the pink slips.  Without knowing it they hand us the 
tools we may sometimes need to offer them a last gentle push toward the 
inevitable.  Mary it is sad but also rewarding to know they passed away 
relaxed, many times with a smile on their lips.” 


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