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Friday, November 23, 2007

The saddest part of the job

There are a lot of tough parts about working in the medical field, but by far the worst is when you have to face the death of a boy or girl.

So the story goes, his mom thought he was watching TV with his brother. But, what he was really up to was riding his quad. It was snowing out, so he probably thought it would be fun to ride in the snow. But the fun turned on him, as the quad landed over his little 9-year-old body.

He was rushed to the hospital by ambulance, but he was probably already gone. Nonetheless, our staff worked on him for over 45 minutes hoping to defy the odds. Our general surgeon rushed in to help at the code, and we are thankful for his efforts, but in the end there was really nothing any of us could do.

I was told he didn't have any cuts or scrapes on his body, so whatever got to him must have been internal. Perhaps the pressure of the quad on his chest didn't allow him to breath and he suffocated. Perhaps he broke his neck. We're praying he broke his neck, because that would be the quick way to go.

While most of us are bagging, or inserting IV lines, or deciding what recommendations we could give to the doctor, the Doctor has the job of telling the child's mom that her son is not going to make it, and the rest have the job of consoling her. That, I think, would be the saddest job in the world. I'm glad I don't have to do it.

I've been in too many situations like this, and I can tell you the worst part is when you are still bagging and the family comes in to say their final good-byes. A rare person will walk from that room without a tear in his eye as the doctor says, "Okay, time of death 12:05."

The silence as everyone slowly sets down what they were doing and stares at the lifeless child, all saying their silent prayers. They stare at the child, sweet and innocent up to the end, even in his last daredevel act.

He was in the prime of his childhood. He will never to go on a date. He will never explore the world on his own. He will never again sit on his mom's back porch and feel the cool, fresh breeze upon his face. He will never hug his mom again. He will never play with his brother again. He will never play catch with his dad again.

But that's not the worse of it. The worst part is thinking how his mom is going to cope. Because I can't imagine anything that would be more difficult in this life than losing a child.

In an older person's death we find some solace in knowing they had a full life. In a middle-aged person we have solace knowing they died in their prime. There is no solace when a boy dies, only anger and regret.

Knowing the child is now with Jesus does little to make a mom feel solace, I'd imagine. Yet, that's where solace will come from in time.

I can't imagine anything worse than losing a child.


mielikki said...

yes, those are the absolute worst days of our job, and I can't imagine worse, either.

Anonymous said...

Makes me appreciate my kid brother and sister even more. The two kids we had last summer came in full arrest from drowning in the nearby lake was a real downer...