Death surrounds us.
Recently, I have had many emotionally exhaustive shifts at the hospital. Some of my patients looked well; others did not. Regardless, many of them have died under my team’s care.
We are all destined to that outcome one way or another. In that sense, perhaps it was meant to be - the diseases had progressed too far or the patient could not carry the burden any longer. But my mind lingers on the life that escaped with their last breath, on the last dying days where my life had become intertwined with theirs.
My mind races and wanders to what could have been. Had we done enough? Did I do something wrong? If I had seen them a few hours earlier, could I have found a sign of the impending end? Could I have then given the patient and their family a few more precious moments together?
Despite my meticulous combing of the chart, I could never find the answers to these questions. We had done everything we could.
In the hospital, death surrounds us, ever hovering in the air, lurking behind every chest pain, kidney failure, and fever. Though we make advances everyday, Death always gets the last word.
"I’m sorry we could not do more," I once said to a rapidly deteriorating patient.
"It’s alright. I know you guys tried. I’m grateful for everything. We gave it a hell of a run, didn’t we?" He mustered his fading energy to form a smile.
"Yeah, you sure did." We shook hands for one last time.