Monday, June 4, 2012

Circle of Life

It's amazing when you think about what can happen in a day.  Dare I say it's amazing when you think about what can happen in just a few short hours;  or, even what can happen within just an hour.  Is it too cliche to say that life can change in the blink of an eye?  In the E.D., events like these are commonplace.

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...

6 comments:

Connie Higginbotham said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Connie Higginbotham said...

I've thought many times like after a bad snowy day when there were a log of wrecks and it was beautiful the next day,'If only those people had chosen to stay home and wait till the weather was nicer',no wrecked car,no trips to hospital or worse yet..morgue..what a difference a day,an hour a minute make..one minute someone in a restaurant is eating and talking..the next choking and someone is trying to do the Heimlich maneuver on them. ..yes a day an hour a minute can change everything...makes one want to tippytoe,but yet we run full speed ahead...

Connie Higginbotham said...

phooey-typos...lot of wrecks-not log...I yii yii

That corgi :) said...

Honestly, Veronica, I don't know how you guys do it day after day with the enormity of it all; for every wonderful event like a new baby there is probably so much sadness like you mentioned here with illnesses, death, etc. Even if you've done it for year after year after year, it still is something I'm sure never gets easier to have to be the bearer of bad news or deal with the circumstances you all are put into. My hats off to you! 12 and pregnant; I can't imagine.......

betty

Missie said...

I liked your last sentence. It's all part of life after all.

Julie said...

I have thought of that same thing when we coded, and lost the 12 year old and saved the 86 year old who coded, you can never tell what the end of the story will be.