So I did indeed say I wanted to write more in the blog. I have evidence that this is a good thing -The Academic Life in Emergency Medicine Blog- which has reference to blogging as being good for medical education and promoting self awareness, increasing compassion...which everyone needs more of, but I seem to have in abundance and actually gets in my way at times (how's that for a sentence!). The ED rotation work has shown me that I had best pick up the speed....but I care if they are anxious about their kids and their work and their...I digress again Argh!
Obviously I have not done this better blogging thing. But I have thought about it. That road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions. So, here I am. And I have over 100 pts to log, a garden to ready, and a week of grandkids, kids, graduation, parties, and...more. But the strange thing is I have been thinking about a few patients -a lot.
What has stuck is the patients that stick. Yeah, I know-terrible prose. But I have experienced a few patients with stories that have really stayed with me over the years-the ones that wake me and I think- what went wrong? Or right? or what could I have done now that might have made the outcome better? And so, I'll mention them again, maybe some for the first time but...and hopefully, when I have some time, I will expand on their stories as I remember them. But for now....
There was the man who came in the the unit late one night- he was youngish, 50's? Had a hx of cardiac issues. He came in with his with his family- all were scared. As the medics wheeled him past, he looked at me, and said...I am really scared I am going to die.
Anyone that knows and heard this statement knows it's not one that you want to hear. Especially in this sort of pt. You'd think he'd be fine- he should be fine. But that sense of forebearing makes me nervous- always evokes that "thump" in the pit of my stomach. I was hooking him up and looked him right in the eye and said "we are going to do everything we can to make sure that does not happen." Dangerous statement- because while we can do everything, some things can't get fixed.
So without details, he did indeed die. I, of course, felt I had let him down. But the strange thing was this: He was still there. I mean it. Still in the room, still felt totally alive. His heart pumped nothing, his lungs exchanged no O2, his brain had not one discernible electrical wave. I have wrapped many a body, and some I believe were long gone in spirit before we readied them for the family and the final visit. This man was very much there, as confused as the other humans in the room when the code was called. This is a man that was not ready to die. Wanted to live. Wanted to see his kids grow, marry, and carry his grandkids. He wanted to do what most get to do, and don't even appreciate. His body died long before his soul was ready.
Often when wrapping a body, there is light talk, and sometimes laughter- it's a horrible task, really. That last zip as we close them inside the bag- it is so horribly finite. So, laughter can ease the time and stress of the task. There are some realities that happen at the end of everyones life that have to be taken care of. Some are not so nice, and really rather smelly. So, yes, while it seems terrible, there are some very bad jokes told- some bad situations that we've gotten into that do cause giggles to escape when it seems quite wrong.
For this gentleman, there was no talk, just whispers, and then, a soft prayer-for the transition he so badly did not want to take to go smoothly, because he was kicking and fighting the entire way. I spoke to him when doing my work- and I admit, tears were there. Because I really had let him down- a promise made that I could not keep...medical science had let him down. But finally, it was his body that had really let him down- while there are some things that can be fixed, so many can't. He could not be fixed.
He I will never forget.