Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Jury Is Still Out

I heard his body crumple before the commotion began. Nurses scurried to and fro. I looked up cautiously from my charts...I was the only doctor in the building.

I placed my charts in a neat pile and nonchalantly walked over. Noticeably absent was the sense of adrenaline. The fear. This was just another day at work.

The sea of nurses parted and I knelt down next the aged man. My fingers reached for his carotid pulse. His chest was moving rhythmically up and down. I placed an oxygen cannula on his nose and checked his blood pressure. Nothing was amiss.

After a moment his eyes began to flutter. We hoisted him into a chair and he was returned to his room for further assessment.

And as I sat down to return to charting I felt a certain sense of satisfaction. I was a seasoned pro. I could handle a crisis without even breaking a sweat. Look how far I had come since medical school!

Look how far I had come? As I write these words I feel a sense of shame rise through my torso and chest.

Since when has nonchalance become OK? Isn't the sense of fear, the adrenaline, the heart racing that makes us most human as doctors? That binds us to our fellow man.

For better or worse...we are not robots. We are deeply scarred individuals with foibles and peculiarities. When cut we bleed...just like our patients.

And when a person falls in front of me suffering form a heart attack...or stroke...or god knows what...shouldn't my pulse run, my brow sweat, my heart skip a beat.

Because when death, and pain, and suffering become part of our routine then we have lost that vital connection between those who care and those who are cared for.

I have come a long way from the innocent boy who started medical school. Who became faint at the site of blood...whose adrenaline raced with each new trauma.

But have I become a better human being?

The jury is still out.


sjdmd said...

Beautiful writing. Glad to learn of you and your site.

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On behalf of the Physician Nexus Team