Sunday, April 13, 2014

When I nearly cried on rounds.

I have been working as a doctor for almost 7 years now. I have been present during lots of beautiful moments and lots of tough ones. I have delivered babies, pronounced death, and given lots and lots of difficult news. I'm not sure I ever was closer to crying while seeing a patient than during rounds on Friday.

I have spent most of my time since graduation practicing as a hospital physician. I rarely feel like I have a lot in common with my patients since most hospitalized patients are fairly old. In some of them, I might see my grandparents, or my parents, or even what I might be like in another 30 years, but I cannot always see my present self. But she was different.

My patient was a beautiful woman, almost my same age, with an adorable 10-month old daughter. I knew her daughter was beautiful because she proudly showed me pictures on her phone as we were discussing how she felt and when she might get to go home. She asked that I speak with her husband, who clearly adored her. Then she asked me if I had pictures of my kids - and so I had to run back to the desk where I was working and get my phone so I could show her. I feel like if we had met under different circumstances our kids would have been playing together. And yet - here she was laying on the bed next to me with her hair pulled back into a ponytail. Her legs were atrophied from the genetic disease that will eventually take her life. She can no longer eat or even breathe for herself; underneath our conversation was the rhythmic hum of the ventilator.

As I was standing there, looking at pictures of her daughter, I had this sudden, terrible thought: would her daughter even remember her? I thought about Naomi, and how much I love her, and how if she lost me now, she would have absolutely no recollection of the snuggles, late-night rocking, or lullabies that we share. And I almost lost it.

I don't know how long my patient has. She wasn't hospitalized with anything serious. And I don't really even know the typical course for her disease. Of course, I don't know how long I have either. Being in that hospital room made me thankful for my kids and my health, but also left me in awe of the beautiful woman who so excitedly shared a little piece of her life with me.

1 comment:

Sue Tell said...

Thank you for showing us your humanity Dr. Aubrey.