Friday, June 21, 2013

All Heart, No Pitch: 00/00

The heart is a fickle muscle. I watched one stop the other day. Beep-beep, beep-beep, beep-beep, beep-beep... The alerts echoed off the tile floors until the nurse turned down the volume. We had done everything we could do for this patient, but it didn't make the conclusion any easier. 

I have worked with patients that later died, but this was the first time I was in the room when the doctor called the time of death. I watched the nurses, who were exhausted from performing CPR, step back from the bed and wipe their foreheads with their arms. Everyone was quiet, except for the occasional exasperated retracing of steps.

This is medicine. This is the nature of the beast.

There is something magical and terrifying about the Emergency Room. I felt the intense desire to escape that room-- it felt irreverent to stay. But I felt a responsibility to stand there and take in the gravity and intensity of that moment. I felt that the patient deserved that minute of our time, just to look at him, to remember that this is not a game and what we're doing matters. Lives are precious, and this patient was more than his medical history or his list of allergies.

Whatever I become, whether it's a nurse or a doctor or a PA or an NP, I will be a better medical professional because of that patient. I doubt I will ever forget his name.

And that's what's on my heart this Friday.