Brain death, really, really dead or still got hope?

There’s an article in the Star today about brain death and you may also read the post on MMR blog about it.

When I was holed up in the ICU last time, I learnt to detach my feelings and sort of see things from the humourous side. It can’t be help because once I see too many, here today, gone tomorrow cases, the weight of it can kill me (because I have problems of my own). Like a certain Punjabi man on ventilator who helplessly waved to me (asking for help) when I passed by his bed because he thought I was one of the hospital staffs. (We have to wear hospital gown to avoid infection, so you can be a Dr. Quack if no nurses are watching). Or a certain man with meningitis who had to be tied to his bed because he was hallucinating and thrashing.

So, I used to entertain myself with observing relatives of dying patients. With due respect to all the grieving parties, some of them were really pesky, obstinate, arrogant and of course, ill-informed. Many think that money can buy life. Most challenged the doctors.

Once, a cardiologist, practically threw his arms and told the nurses, “I am going home, the patient is dead, get the MO to certified the death. I have explained but they won’t listen. I AM GOING BACK NOW.” He was frustrated because the patient’s relatives demanded that he continue resuscitating the old lady eventhough he had explained to them that she had died. So, he left the ICU. I was in my son’s private glass room with another nurse. She told me, “Crazy one (the situation/relatives).” After the doctor left, the relatives kept bugging the nurses and to appease them, they applied one more whatchalit, the

A defibrillator is a medical device used in the defibrillation of the heart. It consists of a central unit and a set of two electrodes. The central unit provides a source of power and control. The two electrodes are placed directly on or in the patient. The device is designed to deliver an electric shock to the patient, in an effort to stop ventricular fibrillation.

So, poor old lady kena fried again. The heart monitor went teet-teet-teet and they insisted she was alive again. Urrgggh…Anyway, this is just one of the many instances I witnessed how reluctant people are to accept death.

My point is -It is hard to accept death. But sometimes, we must give the dignity to the deceased and not subject the body to too much medical intervention. Doctors, especially those who work in the ICU have a hard time breaking the news.

Why? Because most of our minds are all polluted with miracle stories that we had seen too much from soap operas, Hongkong TVB and Dr. House. In times of great grief, our mind deluded us, thinking that it is just another ‘patient died, patient lives again, live happily ever after again.’ So take this an an education, know in advance what actually takes place in a person before dying. Be the smart relatives. Don’t be the ignorant ones who fried dead bodies. Me? For sure I am going to tattoo DNR on my chest where the defibrillator spots are if I can.

12 thoughts on “Brain death, really, really dead or still got hope?

  1. Waaah!!! Lilian lu betul betul sudah anaesthetised against all this death and trauma hor!!! I can only read in shock (shiok?).

  2. been a silent reader since like 2 mths ago when i bumped into ur blog. enjoyed everyone of them! very addictive. u know this topic really coincided with y’day gospel.
    (sorry, i dunno how to do the link thingy)..

    Luke 9:43-45.” At a time when everyone was full of admiration for all He did, Jesus said to His disciples,
    ‘For your part, you must have these words constantly in mind:
    The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the power of men.’

    But they did not understand what he said; it was hidden from them
    so that they should not see the meaning of it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.”

    it just reaffirmed everything u’ve just shared.
    we prefer to acknowledge only wht we want to see and hear. just like how e desciples reacted when they knew Jesus going to die, we r just as guilty of being ignorant or selective because the reality can be very painful and scary esp. when we hv to accept or come to term with loss, pain, heartbroken, etc.

    1 thing i’ve learnt tho, we shld never ask God WHY things happened tht way but instead, ask God HOW we can draw strength from HIM to overcome it.

  3. suzy – Yeah, so true, so true.

    fire80 – Die lah, I baru notice my fonts jadi giant sizes LOL. It looks like I am hollering. You can say life throw me the biggest painkiller in the form of the greatest pain and after that, nothing else matters anymore.

  4. i have observed from the sidelines, a similar situation – i guess the family felt that to stop the machines (even when the patient was already declared brain dead), amounts to something like euthanasia.

  5. nyonyapenang – yalah, it is a hard decision when we come to it, so it is always good to understand a bit how death comes to us. I once had a chat with two Profs, husband and wife, one in charge of the adult ICU and one with the children ICU of a teaching hospital. Ultimately, if we trust the doctors more, then, we don’t have to worry that much. For Muslims, they too have their criterias on that.

  6. Lilian, thanks for pointing out the fact that death is a fact of life. When a patient has died, the loved-ones must learn to accept it. It helps if the doctor gives ample warning as to what to expect.

    Sometimes, family members have something “unsettled” with the dying patient, e.g. they have unexpressed words to say or feel guilty about something. I have noticed that, sometimes, the closest-knit families accept death of a loved-one better than families that far apart. When the patient’s life is in danger, the estranged family members worry that they won’t be able to mend the relationship or express how they feel, and they panic. These are the most likely to make a fuss when death is impending or occurs.

    Family members who are closest to and have been actively caring for the patient are more at peace with the passing of their loved-one.

    Of course the culture of the family will also influence how family members behave during a patient’s dying moment.

  7. Bernard – Yaya, I notice that too. And the best part is ICU doctors on call come in at odd hours and sometimes, they merely wear a normal collared tee (minus ties and long sleeves). So, these relatives will then said loudly amongst themselves or even ask the nurses, “Correct or not? This one is the doctor? You got any other doctor or not?” Hahaha.

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