Over time, I’ve realized that my most profound moments from medical school had little to do with the “books” but everything to do with the “lives” especially of the patients I encountered on the ward.
Today’s post is from an experience I had as a medical student rotating on the pediatric ward.
I walked into the ward that morning and noticed most of the staff were speaking in hushed tones.
Ward round went on as usual, but everyone seemed a little reserved. Soon, the cat was let out of the bag- one of our patients had passed on!
I was stunned.
Such a young, peaceful and innocent-looking boy, not more than eleven. He had been on the ward for sometime and because his diagnosis wasn’t straight forward, we kept running series of tests.
Then the doctor decided to place him on some steroids and his symptoms seemed to improve, so he was discharged.
However, he soon began to deteriorate rapidly that he had to be re-admitted, eventually leading to his demise.
It was particularly sad for me because that was the first patient I knew as a medical student that passed on.
I remember the day he asked me to pass him a bottle of water from his bedside cabinet. “Miss, Miss…” was how he began his request. After passing him the water, I watched him for a few moments before going back to what I was doing.
If only I knew that was the last time I would be able to interact with him,
Maybe I would have held one of his hands, looked into his eyes and told him not to be afraid.
Maybe I would have sang him a song, written him a poem, or read him a book.
Maybe I would have asked him to tell me about his family, his friends at school, and all of his favorite things.
Maybe I would have assured him that despite his pain, there was a Father in heaven who cared so much about him- spirit, soul and body.
Maybe I would have just taken a few minutes right there, to say a word of prayer for him.
If only I knew…
But I didn’t.
Because I wasn’t expecting him to die, at least not that soon.
Weak and wasted as he was, we still held on to the hope that he would live.
But death gave no notice of its intentions, it came and left without restrictions.
Three years later, my heart still bleeds when I remember the incident-though I didn’t shed a single tear at that time.
The rest of my sojourn through medical school came with its own heartaches as several other patients I met passed away, but I still can’t get that very first experience out of my head.
As a closing thought, it’s funny how we take the little things for granted, especially with the people that matter to us the most thinking they will always be around.
Truth is, when it comes to those we care about, death is always too soon.
The good news for the believer though, is that death is not the end, there is life after death.
And that for me, is such a comforting thought.
So when was the first time you saw a patient die? And how did you react to it?
#TrueLifeStories #WardChronicles #PatientSeries