Tuesday, February 14, 2012

when I'm 64

All week, an elderly gentleman had refused to let his wife go. She was on a breathing machine, she had a bad pneumonia, then her heart failed, so fluid built up in her lungs making breathing more difficult, and then her kidneys failed, making it impossible to remove the fluid from her lungs. This is not a new story. This is a common story of an elderly woman in her 80s who finds herself in the ICU.

I talked to the old man a few days ago, asked him what his wife would have wanted. He would not say, but he did tell me, "I hope she makes it to Valentine's Day." I found that cute but not necessarily a good reason to prolong the woman's life.

Today, I discovered that Valentine's Day was their 60th anniversary. Today, the elderly gentleman listened to his daughters, and agreed to take his beloved wife off the breathing machine. Her husband was so upset that the moment we removed the tube from her throat, he said he did not want to sit there and watch her die. As if she knew that he could not handle very much, she passed away about 10 minutes later without the slightest sign of distress.

It's weird- the amazing things like this which you see in Medicine, and how, regardless of all of these life lessons you see around you, you can't figure out how to apply them to your own life.

Anyway, I spent the rest of the afternoon getting everyone else home to celebrate. The first goal was my fellow intern, who had to run out and buy his wife a present before he got home. Then the other residents who had significant others. Maybe it's good karma or something. Maybe I'm more of a romantic than I think I am. But don't say that out loud, or I'll deny it to the end of my days.

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