The Adventures of Medical Spouse

A Blogumentary on the life, issues, headaches and butt-aches of the Spouse, Partner, Wife and Computing Saviour of the Doctor in training as well as those of his close and distant relatives. I am compiling current views, (it's residency ya'll) stories from the last 8 years(admissions, placement, school, the match, residency and the search for real work) and advice for others in the same strange and (uh) wonderful situation.

Monday, November 14, 2005

People Die

OK, not the most inspiring title for a blog, but perhaps educational for those along the medical path. I was inspired to write this after joining the discussion groups on the International Medical Spouses Network. (Hi everyone!) Especially for those who are in Med school and in Residency.

The medical field is not pretty, for all sorts of reasons. The diseases aren't pretty, the stress isn't pretty and your spouse, (or you) isn't pretty after a night of call or a stressful day. And the most stressful days? The ones where someone dies.

I guess this really didn't hit home to me, even as an adult, that people die every day, right nearby. Down the block. There they go. But, this is an 'In Your Face' fact of life in medicine. It doesn't really matter what specialty a person is in, if your dealing with health, your dealing with death as well. Even in Dermatology my husband has dealth with fatalities from necratizing fasciitis. Or he will get called in to make a patient dying of cancer feel better from the rash she has. Or a drug reaction will get out of hand showing first on the skin, and then all hell breaks loose.

When my husband was in Med School, he saw his first deaths and would cry. Maybe not right there, but that day. He would come home a mess and not be able to tell me why, he didn't want to go into horrible details. He would go through his rotations, perhaps leaving the ICU for Peds. He would keep track of his ex-patients by checking the obituaries, hoping not to see kind Mrs. so-and-so who was so sweet. He would rant against parents who were not careful enough, or the stupidity of guns and drugs. He has been the one to tell the family.

And speaking of family, there's the ones who won't let them go. Here is uncle Sandor, ready to die, he's 89, he's had enough, he's on his way and ain't coming back. But someone in the family feels that there is something more the doctors can do. Something that will somehow cancel the lung cancer, kidney failure, old age and keep him alive. Instead of letting him go in peace with support, they rant to the doctors, they beg and they threaten, right there, in front of Uncle Sandor. I understand the desparation, the fear, the grief. It's going to happen. And the doctor has to deal with this as well.

It took a while for me to understand what was going on when he came home wrecked and not speaking. Finally I convinced him to confide in me, and I sucked it up and was as solid and supportive as I could be. Sometimes he still won't say. That means it was really horrible. He still cries.

I'm not sure if people really realize this about doctors. The shows on TV get it sometimes, but often they make it seem like there has to be a huge drama around death, where there often is very little.

In the end I'm thankful for the education this has given me. Really, we humans have strength beyond what we realize considering the strange and wild world we live in. We heave up huge amounts of that strength when called upon to do so and we go on living and finding joy in things, planning, looking forward. And people live and people die.


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