Thursday, March 4, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Lorna Doone




My father died like most people do in this country, alone in the middle of the night in a hospital room. In reality he had died much earlier, though his body held on for days. He had been brought in after collapsing after a workout in a remote park. By the time he received care, his system had shut down and he was effectively brain dead while he lay in intensive care. A really bad break for a guy that had enjoyed excellent health and was a competitive runner.

After several days in intensive care, the doctors set a meeting with my step mother, brother, and myself to discuss our course of action. They kind of beat around the bush about it, but I knew what was coming. If they didn't have any registered brain activity, they would want to know if we wanted to set into motion a series of life support systems, or essentially "pull the plug". It wasn't as difficult a decision as you would think. I, like the others, knew that my father would not have been interested in remaining in some sort of vegetative state. All that really remained was the formality of the meeting itself.

It's interesting to watch how hospital policy kicks in. Having worked at various corporations, I know that everything is handled in some sort of meeting. Policy is made. Legal weighs in. Revisions are made. Memos are sent. Training is held. While a monumental moment for us in that room, this was just another day at work for these folks.

Here's how this deal went down... The doctors walked in, explained how they were not optimistic for a miraculous recovery, and then asked if we wanted to go with Plan A (machines, pumps, and tubes) or Plan B ("hospice", which is a nice way of saying "placing on a bed until he dies"). We then went around the horn, and unanimously agreed on Plan B. The head doctor nodded his head solemnly, and then pulled back the curtain slightly and motioned to a nurse's aide waiting outside. Imagine if a polished businessman motioned a waiter at a high end restaurant with a simple flick of a finger and raise of an eyebrow.

The curtain was moved to the side and a small grey plastic cart, like a high school would use for a projector, was wheeled in. On it was a small selection of snacks, a white thermos of coffee, and small bowl of ice topped with tiny apple juice cartons. The first thing that really caught my eye was the stack of individually wrapped "snack size" Lorna Doone cookies. How odd... I had just officially condemned my father to death, and a tray of snacks gets wheeled in. "Your father is dying. It's official. So let's enjoy a snack!" Now, you know there was a committee meeting to discuss not only if they should have a snack cart, but what the snack cart should contain. There had to be 15 people sitting around a conference table, all weighing in on this issue.

"Look Helen, I like cookies and juice as much as the next guy, but this isn't coming out of my God damn operations budget. Can't you bury it in those clown visits you've got in the fucking children's wing? I don't give a fuck if clown prices are up! How does this fall into my department anyway?"

And why the Lorna Doone? That's not exactly the top of mind cookie, is it? I don't remember every detail of that afternoon. But this I remember with real clarity. As the gravity of the situation should have been overwhelming, I instead thought about the guy that must have sold in Lorna Doone as the cookie for that cart.

There had to be a snack sales guy sitting around that same conference table. Stone faced hospital administrators glared at him as he made his presentation. Maybe he brought in some samples, and people absentmindedly munched on them as he made his pitch. "Hey, I like a Fig Newton as much as the next guy. What's not to like? It's a good cookie. A damn good cookie! But I ask you ladies and gentlemen... When you find out the Grim Reaper has come for your loved one, what do you want? Comfort... You want comfort... And that's what the Lorna Doone is my friends! Each buttery bite is like a kiss from mother... A farewell kiss if you will. Plus, if you look at the proposal I have laid out, I am willing to give you the institutional gross discount price on two cookie single wrap packs. This is unprecedented for our company. We just want to show you how serious we are at making sure that Lorna Doone is there for The People in their hour of need. And of course, I will throw in a pair of Buckeyes tickets on the 40 to the home opener if we can get this done today. Now, if you'll sign off here and here..."

Whenever I hear about someone losing their mother or father, this is what I think of. That day and that little snack cart. That was a pretty long time ago, but still every time I see a Lorna Doone I think of one thing. I think of death.

5 Comments:

At March 5, 2010 at 12:05:00 AM EST , Blogger j said...

That's pretty fucked up. Not sure if i could have refrained from asking, wtf is up with the cart.

 
At March 5, 2010 at 9:21:00 AM EST , Blogger Evil Twin's Wife said...

When my dad died, they gave my mom a Xanax and that was it. No snacks. Not that I could have eaten anyway.

 
At March 6, 2010 at 9:17:00 AM EST , Blogger BLITTLE7 said...

Interestingly, they also pack Lorna Doone cookies into Army issue MRE's. So I guess, there may be others in this world that also think of death when they see those little fuckers.

 
At March 6, 2010 at 1:03:00 PM EST , Blogger Greg Miller said...

That Lorna Doone sales team is on it, huh? A defense contract must be a monster!

 
At March 7, 2010 at 8:06:00 AM EST , Blogger Greg said...

Maybe they can mix Lorna Doons and Xanax. Now that would be a cookie...

 

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