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The Hardest to Wipe Away

One of the loveliest ladies on my ward held onto my hand yesterday as our consultant talked to her about if she wanted all the stops to be pulled out if anything should happen or if she wanted to have a DNR order signed. I couldn’t do anything but let her think and talk and stroke my hand.

Afterwards, all I wanted to do was sit down in the middle of the ward and cry out all my tears.

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Posted by on October 30, 2010 in Blog, Medicine

 

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I flicked to the most recent entry in her notes.

It had been written by the on-call SHO, in the early hours of the same morning.

“I was called to confirm death,” it said. “Apnoea. No palpable pulse. No heart sounds. No pupillary reaction to light. Death confirmed at 0510.”

And underneath: “Rest in peace.”

She had been a young woman with a several year history of endometrial cancer. She had had bone mets and brain mets and a long line of infections, and she had been admitted to acute receiving. We had never met. I was only reading her notes because she had been flagged up as a patient who might be relevant to my audit.

I hadn’t known her in life, but her death was the first time I’ve touched death.

She was a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend.

Just for a moment, I stopped reading and I ran my fingers across that last line. Rest in peace. And I prayed that I might always have the humanity to remember these things — perhaps especially at five o’clock in the morning.

Rest in peace.

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2010 in Blog, Medicine

 

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