The Dying Man Gravitas

This is the end for me.

This is the end.

No. No we keep going.
We’ll get your kidneys working.
Then we’ll re-start chemotherapy. 


I’m dying.

Look at me, I’m a shell.
I’m a shell.

No no. I’m telling you there’s a good chance we’ll have you on chemotherapy.
We’ll give you time.
Don’t give up.
We’re not giving up.

This is my ending.
Let me choose with dignity.

Don’t say I’m giving up.

I’m not.

Do you think I want to leave my wife behind?
My kids behind?

I’m accepting my fate.
We all die.

I’m choosing to listen to my body.
I want to be with my family.
I want to touch their hands
Kiss my wife for the last time
Lay next to her in bed just one last night
In our bed.
I want to have my last thoughts be of my beautiful life

I don’t want chemotherapy to rob me of anymore time
I don’t want chemotherapy to give my family any more false hopes


I want them to see me at peace.
Because I know

I know when I take my last breath.
That image will always be in their minds.

They should see peace

Never pain Doctor.

No more pain.

He had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, chemo unsuccessful, bone marrow transplant unsuccessful, salvage chemo unsuccessful. Bedridden, swollen, acute kidney failure precipitated by chemo…and all he wanted to do was die. But every day, he had an oncologist pushing him for ‘more’ – but there comes a moment when you’ve done everything and all you can do is give a dying man gravitas. 


Brain Death

Today I learned about brain death.
Today I got to see a brain dead patient.

Today I saw a mother grieve.

He chose to believe his life was not worth living.
The pain must have been so incredibly unbearable
For him to choose this path.

Both wrists had new bandages.
As if he was transcribing his pain for the world to see.

Found hanging.
His neck – red – from the makeshift noose.

He lay in this bed
A body & mind deprived of oxygen –
There was nothing left.
just an empty vessel…

His pupils: blown.
GCS: 3
Core Temp: 90F

Bleeding through his nose.
Through his mouth.
No reflexes left.

His vitals slowly deteriorating before our eyes.
Before her eyes.
As she sat there holding his hand.

We fought.
Titrating, bolusing –
but after it all
we couldn’t get his pressures up.

He was ready to take that last step into the abyss.
No matter the medical manipulation…

His body was dying
But his brain was dead

The schism between life & death becoming clear —
as if Hades himself was in that room.


Today I got to see what a brain dead patient looks like.

Today I felt sadness
For the mother who will – for the rest of her life
Remember the loss of her child
     On Mother’s Day


Priya Kumar