Saturday, May 12, 2007
The conclusion of my 24-hour duty being alone was a very dramatic event. Early in the morning today, life within the hospital stopped for an hour or two. A young pediatric resident was found dead in her bed inside the hospital dormitory. Being the only medical resident on duty, it was i who pronounced her unexpected demise.
I, the once cry-baby, now has dyfunctional tear glands. I have observed for several years now that i havent cried for someone's loss. Not even that of a very close relative. I did feel the absence but i was numbed, not feeling the pain of losing someone. This could be the reason why this event happened during my tour of duty. I have a good control of my emotions. I pronounced the unexpected death with dry eyes. When everyone else's were crying inside the emergency room, i was seated at the counter, feeling detached.
I could see myself sitting on a stool, witnessing the drama in front of me, looking sympathetic. Deep inside though, i couldnt recognize what i feel. What i can only understand is that what i was feeling that time was not enough to prompt my tear glands to function. My emotions might have drifted away from my body thus making me numb about what happened.
Detachment is one of my coping mechanisms especially when i started residency training. What with those deaths i have to witness almost everyday? My first few months in training were quite hard until i knew how to be detached when this event comes. I have to struggle on some episodes of depression for a patient's loss. I would really be affected by my patient's deaths. As i grow more mature and older though in this profession, i started to practice this coping mechanism.
As a doctor, I believe that when everyone else's become weak and emotional, someone has to be strong and more objective. It's like acting as a pillar for everyone as they start to crumble. This has been my role in both my family and friend's circle. People think that i am as strong and hard as a stone. Little do they know that i am just acting strong for them. If not for being able to master being detached, i too could create a well of my tears.
This coping mechanism is i guess quite healthy so long as you know how to channel your emotions. If i dont cry in public it doesnt mean that i am not capable of crying. My tear glands were just programmed to function when im alone and in the dark. If i may not be able to express what i feel verbally, this blog actually would suffice. I'm not promoting blogging, am i? Seriously, i find blogging as my emotional vent and this helps me remain sane.
What i was feeling today was a mix of emotions. The feeling of loss, grief, pity, happiness, everything else, except fear. Loss for another member of the dwindling medical staff has to go that early. Pity and grief for those she left behind especially for her parents and friends. They were not prepared for her loss. Pity for her future pediatric patients. She could have been one of best pediatricians in town. Happiness for finally, she'll be home. Finally, she had her rest. She'll be relieved of the 24-hour duties. Relieved of toxicity from this hospital. Relieved from her responsibilities. She too was a chief resident. Yet here i am, still struggling to keep my balance. Juggling my time with all the responsibilities that i carry upon my shoulder.
Why the absence of fear? I believe that death is inevitable. This is one event that we also should welcome in our lives. Call me morbid but i could talk about death, specifically my own without feeling uncomfortable. We all shall die. This is something that we too shall prepare for. I guess it's just like getting married. You too dont know what lies after the ceremony. Both have heaven and hell. Well, more analogies shall be reserved in another post. What i just wanted to say is that i am not afraid of death - in both sides. Either it's i who will be left or i who will be leaving. So long as i live each day as if it were my last, i dont think that i'll remain unprepared for anybody's death, even that of my own. So, should i talk about my own death, dont accuse me of having suicidal ideations. I am just this open-minded with this topic. Actually, i have made a death plan already. Yikes! When my contemporaries were doing wedding plans, this is what i am preparing. Hmmm, is this enough to tell you that i welcome death more than getting married?hehe