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Paliative Care Service - Nobody wears a white coat any more... — LiveJournal
...a tribute to becoming a doctor.
Paliative Care Service
The man with no spine died the other night. One hour he was sleeping, the next hour he wasn't breathing. The nurse had the presence of mind not to call a code. just like that.
Path isn't back, that I've seen. But at least it was peaceful. Painless, at the end.

Four doors down is a woman whose lungs are polka-dotted with metastases from her uterine cancer. We see the cancer cells in her lab work, in the elevated creatinine and poorly-synthesized clotting factors. Somewhere in her belly is a pinhole leak that brought her to our emergency department in excruciating pain.
She is dying, all 80 pounds of her, with antibiotics running in to stave off the infection, a unit of blood now and then, her family passing in and out of the room. Who knows how long she will linger?

My rounds on her are brief, quiet. Necessary interruptions in her dying process. She smiles when I come in, answers my questions with her Virginia hills twang so thick I can barely understand her. "Doin' awright. Better today." And I do not know what to say. We discuss the price of gas, the snow, the hospital. My job.
I am secretly glad to leave the room, if I am honest. I feel awkward and graceless and dumb with not knowing what to say to her. I cannot fix her, cannot heal her. She is at peace with dying but wants to prolong life while she can, and so here she is - and here I am. There is nothing more to do but wait.


2 whispers echo . o O ( ... ) O o . whisper a word
kitashla From: kitashla Date: April 1st, 2008 07:28 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)
I feel awkward and graceless and dumb with not knowing what to say to her.

You feel like everyone else.:(

I watched my father die of cancer 2 years ago and towards the end, I did feel awkward and stupid. I didn't know what to say to him and despite it being my own father, I would be glad when it was time to go. I just didn't know what to do or say to make anything better.

It's a hard place to be.
jays_princess From: jays_princess Date: April 2nd, 2008 09:15 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)
sometimes, makes me wonder why we do what we do.

and other times, i'm convinced we do this for a very specific reason.

know what i mean?
2 whispers echo . o O ( ... ) O o . whisper a word