The Last Lecture

The Last Lecture


Randy Pausch

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The Last Lecture: Chapter 19 Summary & Analysis

It is always in your power to make things worse or better, and Randy learns this profoundly one New Year’s Eve. Jai is seven months pregnant with Dylan, their first child, when she starts bleeding profusely. Randy rushes Jai to the hospital, and it’s quickly determined that her placenta has torn away, and the life of the fetus is giving out. She has to be rushed into emergency surgery after signing insurance documents, and a doctor pulls Randy aside to tell him that his job is to stop his wife from going into shock, to keep her in the present moment. When she’s getting rushed into surgery, Jai asks the doctor if this is going to be bad, and the doctor replies that if it was really bad they wouldn’t have had her take the time to sign those insurance documents.
As has often been the case throughout this book, Randy doesn’t buckle under the pressure of this scary situation and instead he manages to quickly get Jai to a hospital so experts can help her. Also, the doctor’s response to Jai about the insurance documents is an example of shifting a tense situation into a more positive light.
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They begin Jai’s C-section, and Randy decides to hold Jai’s hand tight and calmly explain everything that the doctor is doing to Jai out of her view. Randy is direct yet reassuring, and when Randy sees the baby come out, he tells Jai. Dylan lets out a huge scream, and the nurses say that’s a great sign. Jai is overcome with relief and emotion, and she ends up being okay. Dylan needs to be sent to a special baby care unit to use a respirator, but he gets better and better day after day. One day, Randy and Jai get to the hospital and Dylan’s bassinette is gone. They freak out, until a Baby Nurse tells them he was doing so well that they moved him to the normal babies area. Looking back, Randy says that Dylan’s birth is a reminder of “the roles we get to play in our destinies.” He and Jai could have made things much worse by falling to pieces—they never said to each other “this isn’t fair”—they just kept going, and did what they could to “help the outcome in positive ways.”
Once more, Randy has a positive attitude and takes proactive steps to help improve the situation by holding Jai’s hand and calmly explaining what the doctor is doing to her. Randy believes that, had he and Jai fallen to pieces, the outcome of the situation for both Dylan and Jai might have been much worse. Instead, they put on a positive attitude and did whatever they could to “help the outcome in positive ways.”
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