29 June 2011


2 weeks in. i'm figuring out where the bathrooms are, which nurses to ask for help, how to do things on the computer. i'm learning that the lab will always lose the blood that i personally drew. i'm learning to rely on my fellow interns not only for advice, but emotional support. i'm getting there, but there are still so many unexpected difficulties.

it was about 4:30am and i was sitting with my fellow night interns in our lair - returning pages, pecking out our admission notes - when an arrest announcement came overhead. it all happened so fast... we ran down the hall, up the two flights of stairs, desperately trying to find the room where a patient's heart had stopped. we got there and stopped moving as quickly as we had begun. we felt for pulses, wondering whether we were feeling only our own. we tried to find out information. we did everything we were taught in our respective ACLS classes (advanced cardiac life support).

my resident started a central line as i held the patient's leg still - a job that got my w
hite coat sleeves covered in blood. anesthesiology arrived and intubated the patient. my fellow interns and i switched off doing chest compressions. the residents watched the cardiac rhythm, pushed drugs, and instructed us. i was mostly emotionally numb to the situation as i tried to pump life into this woman's dying body. the sweat dripping down my brow was in stark contrast to her cold, goose-bumped skin. we sent labs, pushed fluids, delivered shocks - we did everything by the book. she was gone. my resident finally called it at 5:30. we put everything down and walked out - defeated.

as i was walking out of the room, covered in sweat and blood, i noticed the sun had begun to rise. i walked to the end of the hall and caught my breath - it was an absolutely breathtaking view southward from the hospital over lower manhattan and the hudson river, bathed in morning sun.

i've discovered in these two short weeks that this job is hard - the hours are long, the free time non-existent, the criticism merciless. but i've also discovered the intimate, unspeakable difficulties of my job: spending the last hour of someone's life with them beating on their chest. i pray that i continue to feel the sorrow i felt that morning throughout my residency and career - not because i desire misery, but rather empathy - always striving to do the best for my patients.

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