Monday, March 21, 2005

Food for thought

It was a busy call, again. Sick patients. Didn't sleep enough last night in the callroom.
Anyway, was at rounds this morning, seeing one of our patients, who spent months in and out of a hospital elsewhere, he was sent here for 2nd opinion where our pathologist confirmed the diagnosis of calciphylaxis. My intern gave him (and family) the numbers: median survival 3 months. For another family, their world comes tumbling down.
And yet, while Adam, my intern, was talking, my mind was wandering. Partially from being exhausted and hungry. Was thinking about how rounds were dragging. Thinking about how I shouldn't have skipped breakfast. And what I should have for lunch. Where I should go for the weekend. Looked outside and saw the shining sun; wondering when I could take the bike out again for a ride. Oh, maybe I should buy that new mini iPod shuffle so that I can take it for biking.
And then I caught myself. The normalcy of my thoughts. Here I was, with my team, ruining another family's day with the news, and yet in my little world, cocooned by the perceived protection of my white coat, life was going on as usual.
Guilt. That's what I felt. One, for having 'normal' everyday thoughts in the midst of someone else's nightmare. And two, shamefully, for being grateful that this wasn't my family.
I remember when dad was told of his colon cancer in 1996. I remember thinking angrily when I looked at those around me, Why is everything still going on as it was? Don't you all know what we're going through??
Kinda like the song End of the World. Why does the sun go on shining, why does the sea rush to shore? Don't they know, it's the end of the world... ?
The thing is, we go through this every day. And give little thought to what the patient might be going through. Sure, we listen. And sure, we sit on the bed and hold their hand, and say we'll be there for them. But when we exit the room, life goes on for us.