February 26, 2013


Cruising down the highway I noticed the lights of a police bike in my rear view mirror. He wasn't pulling me over for a ticket. He was leading a funeral procession. I dutifully got out of the way of the line of mourners. I saw the lead car pass by with the family inside adorned all in black. As they passed by, the these lyrics droned out of my car stereo in a mournful tone:

Don't even think about gettin' inside
Voices in my head, voices

I got scratches, all over my arms
One for each day, since I fell apart
I did, what I had to do
If there was a reason, it was you...

The sight of the funeral procession combined with the lyrics and forced into my head a memory that won't stop haunting me. My brother's words of "make the pain stop" still linger in my ears. By the end I had exhausted everything the hospice doctor had recommended and resorted to my own devices. I ignored admonitions and exhortations about what I should or shouldn't do when the moans of my dying brother told me none of it was working. By the end, I was....I can't even go into what lengths it took.....I did what I had to.

That experience haunts my waking consciousness every single time I see a patient pleading, "what y'all are giving me for pain...It ain't working. It ain't working at all. You hear me?" Yeah, man, I hear you. So I tell the resident who then defers and waits the next morning for the attending to approve (or not) an escalation in opiates. Everyone seems to be afraid of the boogey man that is opium. Sadly, I see this happen with far too much frequency. And each time I'm haunted by my brother's words "make the pain stop". 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

pain without purpose is a waste.