(Nancy Valko, RN ALNC) – Just before Drs. Jennet and Plum invented the term “persistent vegetative state” in 1972, I started working with many comatose patients as a young ICU nurse.
Despite the skepticism of my colleagues, I talked to these patients as if they were awake because I believed it was worth doing, especially if it is true that hearing is the last sense to go. And why not do it to respect the patient as a person?
Then one day a 17 year old young man I will call “Mike” was admitted to our ICU in a coma and on a ventilator after a horrific car accident.
The neurosurgeon who examined him predicted he would be dead by morning or become a “vegetable.” The doctor recommended that he not be resuscitated if his heart stopped. CONTINUE