Thursday, August 31, 2006

I can handle it, but can you?

Today we watched a few video clips about what lies ahead in our future as a medical student and as a health care provider. One of the clips showed a young resident who previously bonded with an adorable old man before he goes into a bypass surgery. In the middle of the surgery, the old man's heart stopped beating before the procedure was completed and there was nothing the doctors could do. The resident broke down as she never saw anyone she knew died in front of her. It was heart-breaking, but the more scary thing is when my instructor mentioned that it's still hard even after 20 years of working in the field and seeing it happen everyday, and it's much more scary the first times. The even more daunting aspect of it is that the attending who was operating on the old man and had the old man die in his hands, had to comfort the broken down resident then go up to the family and deliver the bad news that the lovable old man had passed away. Imagine a day like that, in which you're exhausted to the brink of collapsing, have to stay grounded on the emotional roller coaster of life and death, then maybe go home to your family to hear that your spouse had a shitty day, that your kids got bullied at at school, that there's not enough to foot the bills this month. It's a pressure cooker that is bound to blow you up eventually, but other doctors survive because if you ask for a hug from your fellow colleagues, most of them understand to give you one unquestionably as well as give attentive ears to your stories of how your day goes wrong.

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