Apr 5 2011

the hardest part

Death effects us all, whether its the loss of a closest friend, a dearest family member, a friend of a friend, or even that of a complete stranger.

It is impossible to not be moved, whether we are sighing with gratitude for the relief of their pain. Or we are grieving the empty hole in our hearts, and empty bed in our rooms. We.Are. Affected.

My heart aches for the tragedies I have seen unfold in the lives of those I love, those I work with. Young people taken from us in their prime. Many before they were given the chance to take a first breath. And those taken from us as their lives have come full circle. It pains me, it stabs deep within my flesh + bones to individuals ache from withering loss.

I have working a lot with palliative care lately, and  I can assure you, it is really really difficult. I know for a fact that end of life care is something that I could not do long term. When I decided that I wanted to work in the medical field (even the social work field) I knew it was because I not only wanted to save lives, I wanted to make them better. I wanted to not only make them capable of living, but worth living. That whole thing about making a better tomorrow, we will achieve it. I am not just pooping rainbows here. However, the part I overlooked was that at times, you are not only going to have people that can’t get any better, sometimes you’ll met people who don’t want to get better. I always knew there were lives that couldn’t be saved. I always knew there were people who’s quality of life would never improve no matter the amount of fighting to change it, sometimes you just have to give up. Sometimes you have to stop fighting. I struggle to come to terms with it. Standing at a patients bedside with unlimited amounts of supplies that could keep someone breathing, but not being able to do anything to save them. Sometimes you have to let go. Its so hard to speak with a grieving family and not be able to say you did everything possible, even when it was within the lines of the patients/family’s requests.  Now, I am not talking about medical ethics, or what is right and wrong in these situations – Nor, do I want to get into a debate about them. I am coming merely from an emotional standpoint of a {very} emotional being. Im not sure if its always the best quality, but bygone, I can’t just empathize with a grieving family, my hormones jump straight to sympathy. Leaving me many a times, holding back tears at the bedside.

I can’t even imagine what it would be like to see a family member suffering, choking on every breath. My heart fights against my conscience, I would want to say-that I would want the medical staff should do everything to save that persons life. But for the mere days, weeks, or months, I may receive – its it worth it? Of course, for me, selfishly I would say yes, every dear moment is worth it. For me. But what about for them? What would their quality of life be? What if they were never able to have a chance post-extubation? Would I really want to put my dear sweet family member through all that? I couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t want that for me, why would I wish it upon another? Is it terrible to say that only if the prognosis is good, that I would want everything done?