I’m on call today.
This job is fulfilling…satisfying. People often ask me, “How do you do it?”.
I just do.
Sometimes, however – – I can do a patient visit that lasts for an hour, but because of the high emotional dynamics – – I can come away from that visit feeling like I just worked 40 straight hours and badly need a nap.
Today – I had one of those visits.
38 year old female patient with breast cancer that has spread to her brain. Two weeks ago, she told me, she was taking her kids to and from school – – she was working, attending school functions with her kids, shopping at the mall with her friends, ect. She knew she had the cancer – – and had been receiving chemotherapy and radiation treatments and was about to start another course of such treatments.
Two weeks ago, she woke up and couldn’t move the entire right side of her body. The cancer spread quickly – – and she received the news that she had hit the point of no return.
Just like that. At 38.
Her kids aren’t dealing with it well. She’s a single mom who hadn’t seen hide nor hair of her ex-husband for 10 years. All of the sudden – he’s back in the picture trying to get to know his children he hasn’t spent any note-worthy time with.
She’s got a prognosis of a week, maybe two. She’s lying in bed, doped up on narcotics to take the pain away, looking at this man who was once her husband…the man who walked out 10 years ago. She doesn’t know him anymore. She has no idea what kind of life he leads. All she knows is this is the man who will now be responsible for raising her children when she leaves this earth.
She is more scared for them, than for herself.
She looked at me, with huge tears in her eyes and said, “This isn’t fair to them — they didn’t do anything to deserve this.”
If this visit was that emotionally exhausting for me – – I cannot even begin to comprehend what this woman goes through every hour of what is left of her life.
I never felt more helpless in my entire life.