Friday, November 23, 2007

Inspirational, I guess?

A doctor friend of mine sent fowarded this to me I am not sure why she sent it or what it's purpose is so I filed it under inspirational. I'll ask her later. Take from it what you can.

The caller said doctor your patient mrs Thompson is dying, and she is asking for you.

I received this call a week ago from the night nurse at a hospice where one of my patients was admitted with terminal organs failure.

Edith has been a patient of mine for over two years, she was 80 years old, she had one son, a 60 year old who never got married, and over the years he returned to the family home to be with his mom.

I was treating her for heart failure, hypertension, and osteoporosis. Not long ago she became acutely ill, and I admitted her to the cardiac ward, she quickly stabilised and was doing well, until a young intern on a morning round decided to play God, and told Edith that she probably had a month to live.

After I had it out with the intern, I proceeded to repair my patient who by then, was in pieces, so much so that she was afraid of her own shadow. With all my difficulties I made a commitment to either call or visit Edith daily.

We became friends and talked about all sorts of things, youth, family, the wars, old age, regrets, memories.
I shared with her my son's serious illnesses and she shared with me her fear of dying.

She was very concerned about leaving her 60 year old son behind, with no one to look after him. But she also had hope that death would reunite her with her beloved husband who died some 10 years ago.

During my daily contacts with Edith, a trusted relationship developed between us. I never lied to her about her situation, but I never told her what would only compound her distress. and was not necessary for her to know. In medical school I read ' The House Of God ,' a must read for all medical students to help break the rigours of a very demanding discipline. So I told this intern that the next time he feels like playing God, don't use my patients.

I struggled to keep her positive and we both made a liar out of the intern, because 3 months later she was still alive, if unstable.

The week preceding her death, we had our last long talk, we approach the subject of death at a different angle. I proposed to her the theory that, death does not really exist; because the very essence of life is infinite. I convinced her that she will trade the body she is in now for something new and different, then I stared her in the eyes before I told her that the Edith who is talking to me now, cannot and will never seize to exist. We then made a pact that she is to ask for me when the time was near so I can say farewell, but not goodbye.

When I arrived at the hospice it was well in the wee hour of morning, and Edith was still conscious. I took her hand, she opened her eyes and looked at me, she then whispered to me that she was ready for her new outfit.

I told her to be strong and started to recite psalm 23. When I got to the part of God will be with her as she navigates her way through the valley of shadow and death, to fear nothing, she took her last breath with a smile on her face.

I returned home, exhausted but proud to know that I was with Edith all the way, and saw her through the other side with a smile on her face.

I poured myself a shot of vodka and went to bed with a smile on my face.