Marilyn's Musings

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He just might save one more life…

Sometimes we are faced with situations in life that are sad beyond belief. I faced one such situation this weekend.

My best friend lost her grandson. The details weren’t very specific in the obituary.  His name, age, the family members were all listed. Preferred memorials were to the family, so that did not give any indication of the cause of death.

His memorial reception and service was on Sunday. My husband and I went to the reception before I went into work.

My best friend could not attend the memorial because of her own health issues.  I did get a chance to speak with my friend’s daughter, the grieving mother.  It was then that I learned of why this healthy and vibrant young man died.

He was  18 years old, a beautiful young man inside and out.  Like most of us at that age, he probably felt he was invincible and nothing would happen to him. Most of us have been there. We have done stupid, illegal, or dangerous things when younger that we now look back on and think, “I can’t believe I took that kind of a risk.” Maybe it was drinking at a party and then driving home. Maybe it was engaging in some reckless activity that could have caused great bodily harm. This young man, who wasn’t really into drugs, decided for whatever reason to try to get high on a Fentanyl patch.  It only took that one time of risk-taking behavior and experimentation to be fatal. Due to his inexperience, he ingested the whole patch at once, overdosed, and slipped into a coma. Two days later, he was declared brain dead and a day later the family had to face the nightmare and heartbreak of giving permission to turn off life support, a decision no parent should ever have to face.

There was so much potential and promise of a life that will never be.  He was working at enlisting in the military.  Ironically, on the day after he slipped into a coma, a letter came from the US Air Force informing him that he was eligible for enlistment.

His mother told me that his life wasn’t in vain. He died, but lives on through the organ donations that his family authorized.

One thing she said that stuck with me since yesterday’s memorial was that through his death, her son has saved other lives. It came to me that perhaps by writing this, he will continue to save lives in another way. Perhaps there is a young man or woman who is curious and wants to experience and experiment with drugs or engage in some other risk-taking activity. Perhaps there is a parent who is concerned about their son or daughter. Perhaps they will stumble across this commentary and if so, perhaps this young man’s death will help others to make a life-saving decision. Even if  just one person  reads and takes this to heart,  through his death, he just might save one more life.


4 responses to “He just might save one more life…

  1. Wil March 28, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Thanks for sharing. I’ve never heard such of a drug. And “WOW” how it all happened. It’s so sad. He had such a full life ahead of him. It’s too bad it took one time to end it all. And I certainly think this is a lesson we ALL could learn from.

  2. venushalley1984 March 31, 2011 at 8:38 am

    that is a sad story:( And often it seems unfair that some people can take risk almost professionally… while to someone else, one experiment is fatal.

    • Marilyn June 3, 2011 at 7:49 pm

      Venus, I’m sorry to revisit this topic three months later. It’s been hard seeing my best friend and her daughter go through the grieving process.

      One good thing out of this is that I was able to introduce a policy in our facility regarding the accounting for fentanyl patches.

      Before, one nurse signed out the old, placed the new, tossed the other patch away.

      Now, each shift has to check to see that the patch is in place. Each nurse has to sign oncoming and offgoing with the other nurse at the change of the shifts that the patch is present. If it looks like it is coming off, a clear opsite-type dressing is placed over the patch to help keep it secure.

      At the change of shifts between first shift and second, the patch is signed out, both nurses witness the patch being removed and the new patch being placed. (They are changed every three days). the patch is folded over on itself, medication side down, and disposed of in the sharps container, witnessed by the other nurse. Both sign that this was done.

      Why all this bother? Old patches still contain enough drug in them to make them valuable as a street drug. It wouldn’t take much for someone to fetch one out of the trash because a nurse was careless and disposed of it in the trash container rather than in the sharps container. This way, we reduce the possibility of people obtaining patches.

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