The world is a sad place…
My first pt this Monday morning was a male s/p GWS to the arm, leg, and the head. The kid was only 24 years old. His mom dropped him off to work and the next thing she knew, she was called into the hospital because an unknown shooter had shot her son multiple times. I went down to the ER with my PA for a consult and the room was a mess. He was barely taking breaths, even with the vent, his pulse was brady, and his pupils were textbook brain herniation with no corneal reflex. His CT looked like shit. GCS 3. We called our neurosurgeon and he said to get withdrawal paperwork ready and talk to the family. I went in with my PA and the trauma doc to the little ER waiting room to see his mom and little brother pacing back and forth. The trauma doc took the lead and slowly explained the sequence of events and what his outcome looked like ahead. We shattered this mother’s world with the news that her son was not going to make it.
This was my first time giving news to a patient about their family member’s imminent death. The grief was so heavy and palpable, I wanted to leave the room but we stayed and answered her questions while she sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. The little brother was silent for so long and then he asked “is he dead?” and when we told him that his brother had no chance of surviving, he burst into tears. I wanted to cry with them, but it would do no good to add to their grief. We stayed until the mom finally said she wanted to see her son. We asked the nurses and staff to clean the room and make the pt look less bloody and finally left the family to grieve their loss alone.
I asked my PA if she does this often and if it affects her at all. She’s been working in neurosurgery for 12 years now. She also has a side job as an ER PA for 5 years now. She told me that she’s seen the worst of the worst, but it never gets easier to deliver bad news to family members. The best thing you can do is be honest, give information, be gentle, and give yourself a moment to process and breathe before moving on with your day. Tragedies happen every day; we become stronger and learn coping mechanisms to deal with them. Grief is real and loss is painful. It takes time to understand that not everything is in your control and the best you can do sometimes is offer information and advice while holding a strong composure of confidence and consolation.
Medicine can be innovative and exciting sometimes, but medicine can also be painful and devastating, too. Take care of your patients, their families, but also remember to take care of yourself.
Also, I’ve seen more gun shot wounds in my 5 weeks in neurosurgery than I have ever seen in my life. This is INSANE and beyond depressing. Our policies need to change. Something has to be done. Innocents lose their lives every day because every damn person is allowed to have a gun.
“You know where you are? You’re in the jungle, baby. You’re gonna die in the jungle. Welcome to the jungle. Watch it bring you to your shun-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n knees, knees.”
Snom has SNAPPED
“But you see, it’s not me. It’s not my family. In your head, in your head, they are fighting with their tanks, and their bombs, and their bombs, and their guns. In your head, in your head, they are crying. In your head, in your head – zombie, zombie, zombie.”