Joseph was 89 years old, and had a very fragile heart. I had hospitalized him for yet another heart attack. He suffered with heart failure and shortness of breath, and already had all the arterial surgery possible on his heart. He knew perfectly well his days were running short.
His intense words for me were ” I have to be discharged on Friday. Saturday, there is a family reunion with all the kids, grandkids, sisters, brothers- from both sides of the family. It is the first time all are gathering. “
As gently as I could, I explained today was Thursday, and he wouldn’t be in good enough shape for discharge until at least Sunday. His face fell, and tears glittered in his eyes.
He had a difficult day that day, with his heart threatening disaster- we all watched his monitor with anxiety.
In the evening, he asked to speak with me again. I approached his room, knowing what the conversation would hold. Once again, he pleaded to be discharged the next day. I explained at length again the fragile and dangerous situation with his heart.
With tears again, he said- ” I’d rather die of a heart attack then a broken heart.”
These words touched me to the core. i told him I would spend the night thinking about it.
The next morning, Friday, I told him To think about my idea. If he would stay till Saturday morning, which still gave him plenty of time to get to his reunion, ( and I would be off duty after Friday night), he could sign out AMA ( against medical advice) and go to his reunion. ” Of course, I can’t recommend you do this”- wink, wink. He broke into a wide smile.
When I returned 2 weeks later to the same job, I called his house, hoping he would answer the phone. He did, and regaled me with the glorious time he had with his family. He knew it was the last time, and so did I. I am so glad I listened to his heart plea.