Monday, April 5, 2010

Back to Normal

It's easy to forget how hard it is.

As I get further on in my training, the hours feel a little less demanding, the answers come a little faster, the work feels a little less intimidating.

But confronting sickness and death? That's something that never changes. It's something that never gets a little easier.

In the last 24 hours, I have stood by a bedside as family members watched. I stood, my stethoscope to the patient's chest, listening for the thud of a heartbeat, the whoosh of a breath. I listened for a long time, knowing that I wouldn't hear anything. I looked up at the family, and they know it too.

I left the room to call time of death.

In the last 24 hours, I have stood by a patient's side as they stroked out in front of me. I watched them panic as they lost the ability to talk, and then to move, and then to respond, and then to breathe. I might be able to place breathing tubes and central lines and start medications. But I couldn't stop it from happening.

Despite being busy doing what needed to be done, it felt like I just stood there and watched it all happen.

In the last 24 hours, I have felt powerless, sad, scared, angry, and empty.

Some days, I don't know how to come home and feel normal again.

The hole inside of me feels like it's ready to suck the joy out of my entire life. And take me along with it.

I don't know how to come home. To play games with my boys. To read them stories. To laugh at Hubster's jokes. I sit in the car in the early morning before going inside. Anything normal inside of me has been changed to yucky, dead emptiness.

And at times, I don't want to fight it. I want to give in to the sadness.

And then I see Monkey crack the door just a little and wave excitedly to me. I feel him hug my knees. I feel Hubster's kiss. I hear Bug's welcome.

And I realize that I still feel. That I can recover. That I can go back to normal.


  1. This is an awesome post. And you are an awesome person for doing what you do.

  2. I don't know how you do it, but I'm thankful that you do!

  3. Sooo thankful for you care & concern ...knowing it must be so hard what you do.

    God is good..even in the darkness.

  4. Wow, that is so powerful! Thank you for what you do and for sharing it with us.

    Stopping by from SITS.

  5. Again, my lady with the lamp. Those who go through loss often have little; those who come with much have to offer something, simply as a presence. Perhaps there is no hope inside when so many bad things happen, but being there has made a difference, has imperceptibly changed something. You have power for good. Thank you for showing up, for being part of both joy and suffering. I am grateful for the knee-huggers and steady people you have to go home too. --Wish I could lighten the aching a little.

  6. Stopping by from SITS. I too am thankful that you have the strength to do this every day. I fear that I would not be as strong if I were in your shoes. Great post!

  7. You're lucky to have those great boys greet you when you get home. I don't know how anyone can do that and then go home to an empty house.

  8. I love seeing things from a different perspective! I've been a family member at a bedside, but obviously never a doctor - so it's amazing to me to read your feelings and perceptions. A million kudos to you and everyone else who does what you do ... I don't know how you do it, but keep up the good work. :)