After the patient arrived, a daughter teetered up to the registration desk and asked if she could see her mother. The smell of whiskey on her breath was unmistakable. The daughter went back to the room and sat with her mother for a little while as the smell of Jim Beam wafted through the air. We informed her that things with her mother weren’t looking good.
As the respiratory therapist tried to work his magic, the patient’s daughter got up and teetered back out of the room.
The respiratory therapist’s “healing vapors” had no effect. None of our efforts were improving the patient’s condition, so we went out to the waiting room to tell the family that the patient was getting worse and to ask them about the patient’s wishes for being on a ventilator.
No family members were in the waiting room.
The family was paged overhead in the hospital. No answer.
An aide went to the cafeteria. Not there.
We called the daughter’s cell phone number. Disconnected.
Security went outside to see if they were smoking. Ah HA! They weren’t standing across the street smoking like most of the other hospital visitors (and many patients) do. Instead, the daughter, another woman, and two males were sitting in a car – with the daughter in the driver’s seat – passing around a bottle of Seagram’s. The car was filled with smoke like a scene from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
Well, Ms. Spicoli, when you finish with your bottle, you might want to come be with your mother.
Traditionally, wakes don’t start until after the patient dies.