It’s all good

 

It’s been an interesting few shifts since I last wrote, filled with firsts. First intubations, first central lines, and even first death. Thinking back on it all, especially the latter, I feel like I should be feeling something more substantial about this death, I mean, I pronounced someone dead after all. I feel like I should be having some sort of profound thoughts or feelings to go along with this, you know saying something like “hug those you love” or “Our time here is precious”. But at the time last night, it was just like okay, now how to do I fill out the paperwork? Maybe it’s because the whole thing was a “good” experience. The patient was DNR/DNI, and spent no more than a few hours in the unit before passing. In retrospect, our only real job was to keep her alive long enough so that those that loved her had a chance to come and say good bye. And they did, and that made me glad, for her, for them, and for myself that I could help in this small way. But still, I had expected to feel something more.

About ER Jedi

I’m a resident doctor in Emergency Medicine and I’ve learned during the past few years that 1) I’ve had some pretty amazing experiences 2) I have a very bad short-term memory. So this blog is just a place for me to write about some of these experiences, from the ER, medical school, the wards and life in general. At least that way I’ll have some idea as to where I’ve been all this time. A scrap-book of sorts, a place to vent, organize some clinical tools and post a few good songs I’ve heard along the way.

Posted on August 19, 2011, in Residency. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Enjoy reading your posts but the photos/videos are also great.Get a laugh still every time I watch the reactions of the observers of Rifleman.I think that the drama of pronouncing somebody dead would be much greater if it occured in isolation but it’s impact is lessened when it occurs in the context of ongoing weighty life and death issues. I remember my first experience -called inthe middle of the night a few days after starting my internship.The family were all in the room and were screaming “Is she dead? Is she dead?” as I nervously went through my routine ,trying to delay giving them the final bad news.The one I remember the most was being called in the middle of a winter’s night and having to walk through the dark grounds of a large Victorian hospital to a dimly lit back word to make the final medical judgment on an anonymous old man who had spent most of his life forgotten there.

  2. Reposting a comment (with permission) that was emailed to me.

    You obviously feel the need to feel something regarding this death . You do but not as you expected because of the short period of time you knew this patient. You honored her last moments on earth by allowing those that loved her to say their final goodbyes. She did not die alone. You compartmentalized your emotions to get the job done. Be grateful for this my friend for you will unfortunately witness many passings. It doesn’t make you less of a human for wondering how to complete the paperwork, that too is a coping strategy .

    On a personal note, my father passed away in the ICU 7 years ago. I was fortunate to be able to hold him in my arms to say my last goodbyes because of the terrific staff there. His regular physician as well as cardiologist called me up afterwards with emotional laced voices and gave their condolences. They had established a relationship with him and felt the passing of a good man. I was grateful for the nurses there , for after his passing they escorted us gently out of the room detached all of the tubes and machines and made him presentable for us so that are last memory of him was not of the way he died but of the way he lived his life .

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