living in the hospital as i have for the past month, it has been disconcerting to suddenly find that the sun sets before 8 pm and that i need a sweater when heading out for the hospital early in the morning. and tonight, i found storm clouds hovering close by and a weather forecast of rain the next few days. what happened to summer? wasn’t it 100+ degrees a little over a week ago? how dare the seasons change, or time move on.
for me, time has stood still as my days have become the same blur of running downstairs for deliveries and managing the daily minutiae of nutrition and respiratory needs of sick babies and adjusting to wildly opposite attending styles each week and taking call every 4th night. but all of a sudden, i was at the end of my rotation with one last call night.
on my last NICU call, i found myself, for the first time, watching babies die. i watched my attending wrestle with the bad news that had to be broken and the nagging question of whether anything could have been done differently. i watched the nurses dress and wrap one of the newborns for pictures that would now be post-mortem. i watched an 8 yr old sister and 2 yr old brother of the other baby run around in the waiting room as their parents cried at their newborn brother’s bedside, a bedside crowded with machines and monitors and drips. i watched the parents attempt to wipe their tears and put on a normal face as they picked up their kids and headed to the hotel for the night.
and then i came home this afternoon, opened my email, and discovered that one of our gyn onc patients had passed away suddenly. she’d had a complicated post-operative course, but had been on the road to recovery when i left the service. and every morning when we rounded at her bedside, her husband would update us on her latest progress and anxiously remind us to request this consult or make sure that issue was being carefully managed. he was her best advocate – her personal intern or medical student, if you will – and was overjoyed when she was deemed well enough to be transferred to rehab. they had gone through so much, and i could only imagine his devastation. knowing her husband, he was at her bedside every day until the sudden end, and this comforts me somewhat.
and then later tonight i found myself on the hospital’s employee homepage, about to click on the “Clinical Resources” link so i could research my assigned topic for tomorrow’s rounds, when a headline under “Today’s News” caught my eye. one of the attendings with whom i had worked just one month ago had died of a heart attack three days ago.
i hope it doesn’t start pouring tomorrow.