Friday, January 30, 2004

An Ode To The Rounders...

Everyday we've assembled, white coats and papers in tow...we huddle together around the tables that move and talk about the heart, the lungs, the kidneys, the gut. Decisions are made and suggestions discussed. On our good days, people are made well, on our bad days, they get sicker.

And in between the seriousness, there were smiles, and laughter, and jokes, and looks, and nudges, and fun...lots of fun. In some cases there were train whistles, and in others there were bumper cars, and as recently as today there were whispers and giggles. And though a new team of rounders will start on Monday, the January group will always be legendary.

You guys turned the "frown" upside down in rock.

Monday, January 26, 2004

New Year, New Post

So one of my new year's resolutions was to post to my blog more frequently. Clearly that's not been happening....but I'm gonna try...I promise.

I also planned to make my blog less of a more happy and interesting things....but as you'll see, that's not happening yet either.

I watched a man die today. It was a completely surreal and crazy experience. I've seen many dead people before...I work in a hospital, in the Intensive Care Unit, so death unfortunately comes with the territory. And there's definite truth to the idea that people are not themselves when they are hooked up to machines...somehow they seem less human. And I don't mean that in a dispassionate way, but rather a practical way.

But today, it was different - it was faster. We've all seen how it happens on ER, and though there isn't any fast-paced music or cameras spinning around the room, the rest of it was more or less accurate. There are maybe 20 people of different specialties around the patient, people yell out orders, and everyone wears protective gear. They "shock" the person in hopes of getting a heart rhythm to work with, but the paddles don't actually make the person jump a foot off the bed. The alarms aren't nearly as loud as they are on TV, and the "time of death" call is much less dramatic. All of this is to be expected.

What wasn't expected was seeing the patient sitting up on the side of the bed 40 minutes before he was pronounced dead. I didn't expect that there would actually be blood all over the floor. I didn't expect that the clean-up after the code would take more than twice as long as the code itself. I didn't expect to hear the attending physician speak to the family and break the bad news over the phone. I didn't expect for my friends the residents to be as shaken by it as I was (the fact that the patient was alert and oriented up until his heart stopped beating seemed to make people more uncomfortable). And somehow I wasn't prepared for the ease with which the staff went on with our day when the lives of the patient's family had changed so dramatically.

Death is a funny thing...its something I can say for certain that I have no understanding of, and my experience today didn't make things any clearer. There are any number of cliches that are often used when someone dies, especially someone we know, but somehow they don't fit when someone we don't know dies in front of our eyes. And there is no eloquent way to end the post about this experience, I just felt like I needed to document it somehow.

I'm hoping to have happy things to post next time...stay tuned.