Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Simon didn't ask for the genetic hand that he was dealt. He didn't drink, smoke, or idle about the house. He was strong and active. In fact, his first heart attack struck while on the treadmill. His second, when in bed. We forgot about what he was doing during the third and fourth.
Yet, after open heart surgery and multiple angioplasties, Simon was still having chest pain. His medication regimen was maximized. He attended cardiac rehab regularly.
Day after day, week after week, he came to my office. We fiddled with his med list. We searched for creative diets. We explored yoga, meditation, and acupuncture. Each intervention brought such high hopes that tumbled to the ground and shattered into tiny little pieces with each hospitalization. The leak of cardiac markers felt like the oozing spurt of unrequited blood vessels as the cup of life slowly emptied.
I once apologized to Simon for my own ineptitude. The current state of medicine was unable to solve the ruthless riddle that was unhinging the squeeze of his heart. As his lungs filled with frothy waves, his body began to sink in the great vast ocean.
And I was beginning sink with him. My confidence waining in the sturdiness of the concrete wall I called medicine. The cracks were large and disfiguring.
I sat one morning at his bedside and stared at the remnants of a body transformed over the last few years. The ventilator was removed and the room was still. The second hand on the clock marched forward refusing to bend to the will of misplaced hope.
No one ever warned me about this in medical school.
Posted by Jordan Grumet at 6:27 PM