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Success Part Two

rock tower stair

Definition of Success Part Two

Last night I pronounced the father of a co-worker. Pronouncing is one of the courtesies I do and something no-one ever covers or discusses in medical school or residency or even in casual conversations in the corridors or medical conferences. It happens in the wee hours of the morning when only the night staff is about. The room is usually dark, with just a single light casting shadows on the family who are huddled on the roll-out cot or perched on the visitor chair beside the bed, their eyes red and swollen, a tissue in their hand, their voices hoarse and rough. A night nurse hovers by and everyone seems to speak in whispers. The window may be a bit ajar—to let their spirit fly.

As I approach the bed, I am keenly aware that the body is but a shell for the spirit. I listen for a short time to the heart, look at my watch for the time and announce the time. Somehow those few words make it final—even though it may have taken me several minutes to get to the room and the family turns aside and sobs. I offer a few words about immortality although I’m professionally not supposed to let my personal beliefs influence my actions or care of the patient.

Lately, though, I know these people. I’ve seen them in the ER as patients, I’ve worked with them, I see them in the cafeteria, they know me by name and I know their medical history without opening their chart. They ask about my family and I recognize their children and grandchildren in the grocery stores.

Is this fame? Or is it simply being connected by the threads of life?


One Comment Post a comment
  1. Sylvia, this touched my heart. Thank you for writing about something that must be a difficult but ultimately rewarding part of your job.

    February 23, 2008

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