October 25, 2012

raison d'etre

The following is not FACTUALLY accurate. Details have been changed, things deleted, stuff made up, all to protect identity. But it is 100% absolutely true.

    I did not speak her language.  And as a med student, I was mostly in the way of both the more senior doctors as well as the nurses.  They had a protocol to follow and were carrying it out with the efficient habit of one who is able to do it in their sleep, which as it turns out was useful as it was three in the morning.  The flurry of activity ceased and suddenly the patient was stable but alone.  Despite the fact that the contractions were coming every 2 to 3 minutes, she was still hours from delivering.  Pregnant, confused, in pain, alone.  That last one I could at least do something about.  A contraction started coming and she writhed in bed as her body tensed involuntarily.  I approached her bedside and held out my hand.  She quickly grabbed it and began to squeeze my hand in an effort to alleviate her physical pain.  The contraction passed and her grip eased as her hand slipped away.  "Gracias," she muttered.  Three short minutes later she again reached out for my hand and squeezed.  I had no words of comfort and only my hand to offer.  I have no idea how many times this pattern went on but I stayed with her until she could be admitted to the hospital and her husband could join her in the room.  She did not deliver while I was on and after a 28 hour shift, I wasn't about to wait around any longer.  We all have our limits.  I will never see that patient again.  I don't even remember her name.  I doubt she will remember anything about me, as well.  I will never receive a good grade for my actions.  But it reinforced the reason I want to be a doctor and that was enough.

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