November 19, 2011 (6:18 pm)

by twofiftyorless

My Unexpected Last Words

She did not want any heroic measures taken. She desired only to die comfortably. So, it must have been frustrating when the nursing staff couldn’t even find an oxygen mask that fit. A small woman, with a face to match, the mask kept sliding up her face and poking her in the eyes. While the staff scurried to find a pediatric mask, her family took turns holding the mask 1-2 cm from her face, allowing her to receive the oxygen she needed without being bothered by the mask itself.

We were all thankful for the pediatric mask when it arrived, but within minutes she was pulling at her mask once again. Twice, my mother took the mask from her hand and put it back on. My uncle did the same. “Mom, you have to leave it on,” he said in a tone that he must have heard from her years before.

As she started to pull her mask away again, I stepped toward her bed, and gently took the mask from hand and held it 1-2 cm over her face. “It was pinching the bridge of your nose wasn’t it?”, I asked.  She brought her hand down peacefully.

She would nearly laugh as her eye brow raised and her heart rate monitor momentarily jumped by 30 beats per minute:

“Sorry, there is nothing we can do about that. Despite having the face of an eight-year old, you have the beak of a toucan.”