Posted by: Michelle Stella Riordan | January 11, 2013

Tales from the Bedside…

Tales from the Bedside.


I’ve become a professional hospital visitor.

My friends are horrified for me but I keep reminding them I’m not the one IN the hospital. This one is easier to get to, to park at…simpler than Columbia Presbyterian.  Plus people are friendlier in south jersey than in NYC. 

Got an email that Ms. B was in ICU.  Placed a phone call, finished what I was working on and headed in.  Heart attack, alcohol, pneumonia, vent & a feeding tube. 

Its busy here today.  It’s sunday.  In the hallway, I can hear the nurses talking to a family member about a DNR so casually. Very surreal. 

ICU nurses are amazing. I watched one redo IVs, put in a pic line and roll my girl over. And that’s the nice stuff. You couldn’t pay me enough to change a urine bag. Ick. It’s a reality. They do so much while the patient is in a coma and get cursed at when they come out. No win situation. 

It’s hard to remotely understand why someone can’t take the pain. Why do they have to abuse their body? Why is the human condition so frail?  

She opened her eyes when I came in and talked to her. I was thrilled. First time.  I talked softly so as not to alarm or agitate her. She relaxed. A few minutes later the compression cuff on her legs woke her. Her body tensed and she opened her eyes again. She frowned and started to cough. I explained as simply as I could that she was in the hospital and was sick. I asked her to not fight the tubes down her throat and concentrate on getting better. 

She’s back out now. Rosary is in her hand. Pretty pink ones. I can only hope this scares the crap put of her and she realizes that life is beautiful.  

I leave her with photos, a card and a reindeer.  The little things to let her know I’ve been there for days and hours.  Maybe it will make a difference.  Maybe.




  1. Wow! Very powerful!

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