Do Not Resuscitate


Have you ever pushed
Onto someone’s chest?
More like pounding
Without a pause or rest
One, two and three
Then add the breaths
And keep going
Up to one hundred

Have you ever cracked
A fragile rib cage?
One, two, many ribs
Beneath my shaking hands
Epinephrine once, twice
Vasopressin, if no change
Intubate, push and pound
Check out the rhythm

Not so much a pause
And no tears shed
Horrified family
Shaking next to her bed
Grandma isn’t there
Not really anyways
“Keep going doctor”
That is the only way

Code status
Code status
Why do I have to ask?
Why do they have to choose?
Do they really know
That we are powerless?
When there’s nothing left
We can’t defeat death

I am not for tattoos
Never was, never will be
But if I had to chose
It will likely be
“Do Not Resuscitate”
Tattooed on my chest
So that when I’m gone
You don’t have to choose

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8 thoughts on “Do Not Resuscitate

  1. I’ve been away from the code cart for decades. The memories always stay, stacked away in a back closet. This is not so much “dark” as truthful. Keep writing. The muse likes truth
    Alice

  2. Thank you for sharing. I am a nurse, not a doctor, but have been in situations where I was responsible for a code status in a nursing facility until the ambulance arrived.
    I think that your tattoo for Do Not Resuscitate is possibly one of the only reasons I would get a tattoo.
    Powerful poem.

    1. Thank you so much. We are a treasure for the medical community. I wanted to have a bit of humor but the weight of the topic dragged me down. I once heard of an ER doctor who had this tattoo! With this poem I wanted to challenge the whole concept of asking code status from family members. What a heavy burden to put on loved ones, when we most certainly know what the outcome of a code would be. Thanks again and have a great night

    2. I’m back…I really thought that your writing
      “Have you ever pushed
      Onto someone’s chest?
      More like pounding
      Without a pause or rest”….
      and
      “Code status
      Code status
      Why do I have to ask?
      Why do they have to choose?
      Do they really know
      That we are powerless?
      When there’s nothing left
      We can’t defeat death ”

      The truth that so many medical professionals want to ask people that ask the impossible …The first two lines are breath taking to my soul.

      Thank you.
      Siggi in Downeast Maine, USA

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