Of immunity and short-lived aspirations
Death is a funny thing. Sometimes you think it can change you, that it can push you to be better and do great things. And while this is true for most people, I want to share what it’s becoming for me.
I remember the first death I ever saw. We were assigned a patient for a case report and the two weeks following up to her death were spent history taking and doing physical exams. And talking about the nursing school she used to go to. And how she used to have thick, wavy hair that cascades down her back. And about boys. And about hair accesories.
The morning of the day she passed away she asked the residents if she could go home. We all took turns comforting her, saying that it’d be better if she stayed here because we’re trying to get her better. Besides, you have us, we said. She agreed and we all went about our day, planning to get her a thank you gift the next day for being so co-operative during our case report workup. I had my evening shift this particular day and during our task briefing I found out that there’s a transfusion planned for her. She didn’t even make it to our “strict-monitoring” list - reserved only for patients who, indelicate as it may seem to say so, are within an inch from death. So imagine my surprise when one of the student-nurses ran to tell us that there’s a patient “turning blue” in one of the rooms. Imagine my horror when I arrived in said room only to see her, seizing and showing signs of decortication and yes, turning blue. We got the crash cart and ambu bag ready and the resident on-call was ready to commence CPR, only to be shooed by the crying mother, saying she doesn’t want any attempts of resuscitation. I watched as she drew her last breaths, rubbing circles on her forearm and reciting short verses in attempts to soothe her. And then she was gone. I quietly gathered my kit and texted my groupmates about her passing. And on the drive home I cried. I cried and swore I would study my hardest and made a promise to myself to keep an attention at hematology and immunology (she was diagnosed with SLE) so that this disease may find its end one day.
But of course that promise lasted as long as any promise made out of misery would. Because before you got over the first death there was another, and another, and it keeps coming until it numbs you. Until it becomes nothing but a medical record you discuss over with your resident as to what causes it to happen. And now as I’m nearing the end of my pediatric rotation, I had entertained hopes that things will change. But as a patient came in to the P-ICU with paraquat intoxication with a predicted 1 week of life left, we merely offered obligatory condolences to the family while we watch for signs as the poison circulates through the kidneys and lungs, eager to see how close the prediction was.
It was spot on.
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- rubberbend said: Death certain leaves you to contemplate. I lost my father on the first day of this month; mostly because of his stubbornness, but a loss nonetheless. I couldn’t find any sorrow; just that he’s safe from the pain, listening to Nujabes or something.
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