I had a young guy last night, in his 30’s, come in with a first time seizure. After he came round, he was all worried because a had a flight to catch in a few hours. He was flying out west to meet his fiance for their engagement party the next day. We did the usual first time work up, which included a head CT. 99 times out of a 100, the head CT is going to be normal, only in his case, he had a tumor, a large one. One he had no idea about. I told him and his family about what we saw, and what would be happening in the next few hours. They were obviously very upset and tearful, grappling with the information that had just been thrust upon them. Before I went into the room, one of the nurses asked me if I wanted any Kleenex. I told her I’d grab some for the family before I went in, but she was like “No, do YOU need any kleenex for when you go in?”. I couldn’t tell if she was serious or not. I told her no, that I would be fine, and I was. But I was surprised that later, almost 3 hours and 6 patients later, it hit me like a ton of bricks, in the middle of a gall bladder ultrasound in fact. I just felt overwhelmed with a sense of grief and I literally had to hold back tears. I got over it quickly, but it really took the wind out of my sails for the rest of my shift. When I was done at midnight, I dreaded going home. Mrs ERJ was out of town and then thought of going home to a empty house sounded awful. I looked for a bar to grab a night cap in, not for the drink, but for the sense of people alive in it, having fun, laughing, talking. I ended up just walking for a bit, until I felt the stress of the day fade away.  I know this is part of the job, and I know this was my first time delivering news like this. In a way I’m guess I’m glad it hit me like it did, but I was just surprised in the way it happened.

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 March 3, 2012, in Emergency Medicine. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Student nurse

    That’s the sort of nurse I want to be. I hope there is more joy found in your job over the next few days.

  2. Your humanity remains intact after 4 years of medical school. Hope it stays in place .

  3. That nurse sounds like a smart woman. I’ve also had that few-hour delay when I learn terrible news. Sometimes hard things take a while to process, especially when we don’t expect them to bother us so much. Your patients are lucky to have a doctor who cares!

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