Saturday, June 22, 2013

Poem - Do Not Resuscitate



Do Not Resuscitate

I can say
your father is dying.
I can say
wishing will not make it so,
belief doesn't change a thing.

I can say
love does not conquer all,
miracles are pretty stories told in church,
the movies you saw as a child are lies,
blind hope is not a recipe for success,
underdogs usually lose,
death is not the worst thing, it is just
the last thing.
But for you that is not true.

I can say
we have to pretend
that we can bring him wheezing
back to you like an old accordion,
chest pleating in and out,
singing his customary songs,
oxygen bumping its hurdy-gurdy way again
through his ancient heart.

But how can I tell you how
someone will shout down the hallway, kneel
frantic on the bed,
lean his fists against that old breastbone, sharp, frail,
one onethousand, two onethousand, and count it out.

I can say
we should not do this.
He will never be the same.
I can say
if it were my father.

I can say
do not confuse resuscitation
with resurrection, although
neither works particularly well.

You look like you are drowning,
pallid and slow in the waiting room's
underwater light.

So. Tell me.
Tell me again.
Tell me about your father.

Brenda Butka, MD


(From Jama, October 24/31, 2012- Vol 308, No. 16)

6 comments:

joan larue said...

That truly brought a tear to my eyes.....

Adrianne Jaski said...

This is precisely why my sister and I honored our mother's wishes, kept her comfortable and brought her home to die. I said, 'No,' to the cath lab. She would never have survived it. As it was, she died just 8 days after her massive MI. She died surrounded by my sister, me, our husbands and her beloved dogs who were on her bed when she took her last breath. We did right by her. We kept our promise.

Anonymous said...

This is a really touching poem. Thank you for posting it.

charliesbird said...

With what is going on in South Africa today, with Mandela's 'critical condition', this rings very true. Thank you.

Tjb said...

Just came across this. Im currently working in the ICU and this captures so much of what this decision process is like. And awesomely enough, the writer works in my hospital too! Thanks for sharing.

Jocelyn Walters said...

Such a nice poem, reminded me of a song called Resuscitate me, such a great one. This poem you've shared is just incredible, so deep and so touching. It is really hard to survive difficult moments but with art you can do that in an easier way for sure. Thank you so much for such an inspiring post.