Wednesday, November 21, 2012


[originally written 07.28.2011 during my ICU rotation]

The stories these walls bear. Miraculous recoveries. Unspeakable tragedies. And mostly everything in between. The flow is steady, rhythm strong. The floors covered in blood and in tears. Sometimes independent, but usually all at once.

And oddly enough it seems like that how the patients come, too: steady, independent, and all at one.

The man in room #44.

The woman in room #22.

The alcoholic grandmother. Smoker. Mother.

The trauma. The car accident. Pneumonia. Hemorrhage.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

We see them cycle. And sometimes they leave us floating—smiling at their recovery, body full of miracles and fervor. Others make us shake our years. Thirty-seven, so young; her liver aged  and poisoned from alcohol. And then, in some rooms, tears track in and out all day long—the goodbyes too much to handle, the dying too long and life too short. The hanging on—just barely, and the holding on—too strongly.

All sorts are wheeled through these doors. It’s a battle of the heart and mind, the practical and the justifiable, the quality and the quantity—of life, illness, moments, and madness.
Days have been tough for me. Upset families. Dying patients. Tragedy striking unannounced just one time too many. And for some, the inevitable finale rearing its ugly black head. My tears have been tracked, too. Implanted on footprints, dropped on sterile lines, hidden in the cuff of the white coat I’m forced to darn.

I’ve lost more sleep over these patients than over the sick babies, the neglected children, the homeless asthmatics in the dead-of-winter, and the cancer filled ovaries I’ve seen. Not because they don’t make sense—that an obvious part of the conundrum, but because we don’t make sense.

It’s been a soul-filled journey. Soul and sour, actually, depending on the day.

George, the hilariously absent minded, misunderstood character in Grey’s Anatomy pre-raunchy Season 1 was distraught about pouring his every drop of energy into a code on an already obviously-dead patient—antiarrythmics, defibrillation, chest compressions. But his all-knowing supervisor reminded him WHY those measures, ridiculous and seemingly wasteful were necessary.

                Because we have to be able to tell the family that we did 

And now—at the end of these five weeks. A the end of my nights of lost sleep and growing gray hairs.

At the end of this rotation, I finally get it, too.

This isn’t about the medicine. It’s really not about the disease or the diagnosis, the tears or traffic or tragedy. 

It is about TRYING. 

Giving the body one last chance to heal, the family one last chance to say goodbye, and Jesus one last chance to say hello. And at the end of the day, we go to bed knowing not what the future may hold, but knowing that what we tried was 100% and what we gave was EVERYTHING. 

No comments:

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin