Wednesday, October 6, 2010

This One Time at the Gradys. . . . .*

~ names, details, etc. changed. . .you know what's up. 

 This one time, at the Gradys. . . . .

An excellent young resident physician was talking to one of our ninety-something year-old Grady elders at the end of her hospitalization. Upon the request of his attending physician, the resident broached the subject of advanced directives with the patient. . . . .

"I just wanted to be sure that we were correct about your wishes.  If something was to happen to you where you had trouble with your heart or breathing, you would want life support?"

"I definitely, definitely want life support."

 "Okay. . .  . .I was just wondering. . . . you know. . . .Sometimes when a person has been fortunate enough to live to be in their nineties like you, they prefer that nothing heroic be done. That things just be let be."

"Oh, Lord, No! Don't never just let me be. I want the life support. Definitely."

Resident doctor clears throat. Looks uneasy. "My concern is that it could make matters worse. Depending on the circumstances, it might not help at all."

"I can't see why it wouldn't help. If they got to me right away, seem like it would be alright. Plus I done outlived everybody. Most of my kids. My husband. My sisters and brothers. Got a bunch of grands and great-grands, but they ain't no count. It's just me. So definitely. I need life support."

"I am not suggesting that nobody would help you in an emergency or if you were sick. Not at all. I am just saying that especially considering what you just told me, some doctors might recommend that you don't accept life support."

"Well, them doctors would be some fools."

Resident doctor sits there. Just staring. Doesn't know what to say. Patient speaks again.

"Hell, I don't want to be like Juanita that used to play bingo with me. She fell and didn't nobody come for her for three whole days. That ain't happening to me. No suh! I want the life support."


Lightbulb moment.  Ah hah.  "Ummm. .  . . Mrs. Flournoy. . .what do you mean exactly when you say 'life support?'"

"You know. . . .that thang you put 'round your neck that you can mash to call somebody if you fall down by yourself or need some help."


"You mean 'Life Alert?'"

"Whatever the hell y'all call it. I want that thang I can mash if I fall or something. Juanita's hip was broke in two places and nobody came for three whole days. She was in her nineties, too."

"Oh, okay."

"You need the life support when don't nobody come to see about you that much. Now my sister, Willie? Her kids and 'specially her grandkids, they see about her every day. But mine? They ain't no count."

"Mrs. Flournoy?"


"What if you came to the hospital or were at home and your heart stopped or you stopped breathing? Would you want the doctors to do CPR, like pushing on your chest, giving you medicines, and connecting you to machines to help you stay alive?"

"Awww hell naw. I don't want none of that. When the Lord call for me, don't y'all get all up in His way. That's what happened to one of the ladies on the Mothers Board with me at church. They had to pull the plug. I ain't even got nobody left to come and pull the plug!"  She threw her head back and laughed.

"So. . .wait. . . .you would not want those things I mentioned?"

"I DO want the life support. I don't want y'all holding me here if God trying to take me home. Matter of fact, it get boring sometimes going to all these funerals." She chuckled again.

"Wow. I could only imagine. But I bet you've seen a lot in your lifetime, though."

"Oh yeah. I remember when there was a Black Grady and a White Grady. One side for if you was colored, and the other part was only for white folks. They had air conditioning on one side but not the other side. Yep. Colored Grady and White Grady. That's why we still call it 'The Gradys.'"

The resident nods in respect of the history lesson. Looks like he might be imagining how one must have felt to be on the non-airconditioned side during the summer. Especially in Georgia.

Mrs. Flournoy is oblivious to his deep thoughts. "You know what else?"

"What's that, Mrs. Flournoy?"

"They have it so where you can RE-wind your television or pause it while you watching it. If you got the special cable like my sister Willie got at her house, you can just pause it and see about a pot on your stove."

"Yes, ma'am. . .that is pretty neat."

"Especially if you got people seeing about you. See my sister, her kids and grands, they got her the special cable TV. I only see it when I go by her house. See, 'cawse Willie, she got her kids and 'specially her grands to see about her. But mine, they ain't no count."


"All these young folks is worried about is what they got going on, and not what nobody else got going on. You know what I'm saying?"

"Yes, ma'am. Unfortunately, I'm embarrassed to admit that I know exactly what you're saying."

Oh my gosh. Are we a generation of "no-count" grands and great-great grands? I sure hope not.


Grady elders = The truth.  I'm just saying.
*Story courtesy of my friend and fellow Grady doctor, Danielle J.  :)


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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