I am still somewhat green in this field, still learning the ropes and steps but sometimes when you’re working in this field, in general medicine especially, you’re sort of "immune" when you’re dealing with dying patients / death. Automatically there’s this invisible, protective barrier surrounding you, devoid of any emotions so that you can manage your next patient without having the recurrent thoughts of that particular patient looping in your mind.
I still remember the first time I encountered a patient that we (the team) issued “DNR” (read: not for active resuscitation, for best supportive care) in my second posting as a House Officer, I was shaken and I almost cried (read here). At the time, I kept asking myself if I did the right thing.
Nowadays, issuing DNR when indicated (i.e. when we postulate that the prognosis is poor) is something that is not as hard as before.
But my first referral in Resus during on-call last Monday, I lingered around longer than expected, trying to make sure the patient and family knows what was happening, what was bound to happen and how we planned to deal with it. A young gentleman with terminal metastatic cancer and we know that nothing much we can offer except for comfort care; to counsel him while he was still awake and aware, something struck my core.
He’s not much older than me, and he’s probably at the end of his life. I wonder how it feels to be in his shoes; not being able to do much and depending on others to care for him, with shortness of breathand his bloods showing multiple organ impairments… when I was counselling his sister, I myself almost tear up.
Another recent young death, Mr Ali Banat, also resonated in similar way- a young gentleman who passed away recently due to cancer, being able to contribute up to his last breath. These people were given chance by Allah, to prepare before they breathe their last breath.
But what about us?
Have we atone enough?
Have we seek for forgiveness from The Creator and other mankind whom we’ve wronged previously?
Have we settled all our debts?
Have we save enough merits for the hereafter?
“Ya Allah, iftah ‘alayya”