NO CODE. Every member of medical personnel involved in direct patient care will know what this means. It can be signified with a special armband, or simply written in a chart. Basically it means the patient and/or caregiver is refusing CPR in the event of cardiac arrest. But, it is so much more than that, and I want medical personnel, the world over, to know what it actually represents. I call it the "know code."
The "know code" is what I did with my son. They may not have been aware at the time, but I wasn't about to let anyone take care of him without KNOWING him. He was in a coma for a majority of the time and very few of them actually got to meet him although they cared for him several times over the course of a month. It didn't matter if it was the attending physician or the housekeeper, I shoved my phone full of videos in the face of anyone who walked in our room. If we were going to be making impossible decisions about his life, they were going to know what was at stake here. I wanted them to know that I wasn't losing a blood pressure and respirations. It wasn't just going to be bradycardia and eventual asystole. It wasn't going to be a decision I would be coming to lightly. Because what I was losing was a belly laugh. I was losing an ornery grin and laughing eyes. I was losing crazy, infamously curly hair. I was losing the little boy who struggled to talk, but said "Momma" with the greatest of ease. My children were losing part of them. My husband was losing a "Mr. Brown Can Moo" buddy. My father was losing his recliner partner. He was losing his Bubs.
So, walking into that room and telling them to make him a "no code" did not come easily. It broke me. It turned my body inside out and upside down. The person saying the words was the nurse inside me. Meanwhile, the mother was SCREAMING at the top of her lungs at the inevitable loss of her child. It was a war within myself. I knew the nurse had to win, but the Mommy wasn't giving an inch. That part of me tried to rationalize that I would take anything that came back to me, no matter how dire the circumstances. The Mommy part loved him so much that I felt it difficult to breathe at even the thought of giving this type of permission.
Then something incredible happened. While I thought at the time that the nurse inside was in charge of this part, I realized that the Mommy would always win. The very part of myself that loved beyond measure was the driving force behind the final decision. And although my exact words were, "Please make him a 'no code,'" I knew in my heart that we had reached these incredible people on a very human level. They wept with me. They felt the sting and pang of loss as well. My son had once again proven that his natural pull on the human heart was nothing short of miraculous. MY son was KNOW CODE.