Monday, June 4, 2012
Circle of Life
I had a shift recently where at one moment I am running down the hallway to help a new life come in to the world (didn't make it on time, baby was already out) and the next moment I'm coding a cardiac arrest that I pronounced about 10 minutes later. A life begins as a life ends. Both rooms full of family in tears.
I've had patients come in with a minor complaint that I later have to walk into the room and have a frank discussion with regarding their disease... their life-changing disease... their "you better start making final arrangements" disease... their "is there anyone you want me to call" disease...
I've sutured patients after a motor vehicle crash who lost family members within the same car. I've seen them cry and scream, sit with tears streaming down their face, or sit eerily quiet as if by not acknowledging their surroundings they can convince themselves that it's all just a bad dream. They certainly didn't expect to be there when they awoke this morning. They didn't know that taking that side road was going to make that much of a difference. They didn't know that 15 seconds was going to be the distinguishing factor between life and death.
At the other end, I've counseled women (because when you're 12 and pregnant that makes you officially a woman in my book) who I've let know that yes, the rabbit died (who even knows that reference nowadays?) I've reassured a lot of women that their pregnancy is going well. I've seen birth, death and everything in between.
Some days you wonder how any of us survive... Maybe I'm feeling existential today, but it's all a part of life after all...