Friday, February 12, 2010

The End

Photo from here

It was going to be hard. I knew that. But I didn't know it was THIS hard.

I chose to rotate at the Supportive, Palliative and Hospice Care unit of our institution this February for 2 reasons. First, it's only 28 days (2-3 days shorter than your regular month) and I will be done with it soon. There's just something about palliative care and terminal care that makes me uncomfortable.

I know it's not because I fear my own death. In fact, I always tell Chuy my death plans: no intubation, DNR (do not resuscitate), cremation and I already know to whom I will give my priceless collection of books and stamps.

As I was faced with a dying patient this afternoon, I couldn't think. I didn't even know what to write in the chart or what to say to the patient's family, especially her daughter. It started with a lump in my throat and I knew that any moment, it will roll down my cheeks. I had to excuse myself.

As I was going out of the room, I was wondering why this reaction? I know I'm a toughie especially about patients. I am almost always objective and that's not hard to do.

But as I let my tears flow freely after the rounds, my Senior made me realize what it was about -- I empathized too much. I can relate to what the daughter is going through. After all, she's also a doctor. I imagined myself going through the same thing with the people I love. Not patients, this time.

I don't fear my own death but I fear the death of my loved ones. And that's awfully hard to think about. Harder to talk about. Now I wish February is longer so I can deal with this.


Bonedoc said...

There's this gray area between whats empathizing and empathizing too much. Tears, is the probably the best delineating "sign". Makes us more human than the god like training we get...

I too fear only for the loss of any of my loved ones.

J.A. said...

Here's a call for entries to TBR v.2 which I am hosting soon!
Hope you can send an entry!

CJ MD said...

I totally empathize with Merry Cherry. It also brings a lump to my throat seeing a patient die. That's the reason I didn't go to oncology. It will affect me too much. I hope I can say it gets easier to see patients die. Once you get used to. But not really. You'd have to be made of stone to get used to it. Sometimes I cry after the rounds. And then I console myself that at least I was there, and maybe the presence of someone who can sympathize was enough.