Tonight I am reminded of Clyde. That was my anatomy cadaver I’ve written about before. He was my first patient, he was my first step in learning about the human body, he gave me an experience I will never forget and will forever be thankful for.
I am reminded of him tonight because tonight is the night my first living patient passed away. I’m at home tonight, meaning I’m not on the night shift. I left the hospital earlier in the day and just got the text about my patient.
I feel very sad. I knew this was going to happen at some point, but I just figured it would be all ‘medical’ at that point, not as sad b.c I’d understand exactly why and how they’re passing away. I know…that sounds odd…but it’s true. If you understand the pathophys behind liver failure, there is no shock or denial, there are just that facts that you know to be true.
However, for this patient it is so much more. Over the past few weeks I’ve seen his family at all hours of the day. I’ve been there for family meetings when they learned of his poor prognosis. I’ve waited by the room as they resuscitate him after a code. It was this patient that made me believe in courage in the face of adversity. Procedure after procedure and needle after needle — he showed perseverance. I know that part of the determination to live was just for the family.
Again I feel thankful for those that play a role in my learning. From this experience I walk away with a personal connection to death in the hospital–not family, not friends, but with my patient. I only knew him for 3 weeks. I knew some of the most intimate facts about him and was there to talk about bodily functions every morning. Near the end he wasn’t as alert, but still stubborn and focused as ever. Even after having to get stat hemodialysis through a newly placed femoral port…he looked at me and said ‘what’s next?’ and … ‘can I have one of those sponge things?’ He persevered. I’m afraid of needles…I know, ridiculous, this man was doing whatever he needed to do–for himself and for his family.
Today the family waited as one last member of the family drove from their home to the hospital. I think he waited until they were all there to say goodbye. I think he knew.
I can’t be there tonight with his family or to have said goodbye. But my he will be special to me forever.