Monday, October 20, 2008

....out of body...

So I am feeling a little bit weird today...I am coming off vacation. And really, I slept a lot over vacation, and frankly by the end of it (which displays my indoctrination into the world of medicine) I was looking forward to coming back to work - the sense of purpose and mental stimulation...

Now I am back, just feeling insecure, not feeling like I am living in my own body. I feel like I am passively observing my life, looking out of my eyeholes like I am in a costume, like a puppet master, just moving my limbs from place to place. Dragging them to get to the right places at the right time, forcibly pushing words out of my mouth, like actual parcels with weight and mass.

I feel insecure about my ability to be a good dr...Especially in the outpatient setting which is where I think I ultimately want to be...I feel insecure about my ability to work with the youth group girls, even though it is something I am passionate about. I feeling insecure about the future, about what I want to do, where things will go, how things will play out. I feel insecure about the day to day, wondering how it will all play out.

I look to God, asking what he is doing in this season of my life. Making everything feel insecure so I have to trust in him? Have to recognize that there is something bigger than me? Having to stop relying on what I assess as my "own powers" and realize that my value comes from more than what I do, it comes from who I am, what he has created? Hasn't that gotten played out yet? When and how will I learn? How many layers of this onion have to get peeled? How many times do we have to keep going back to the same issues, realizing that there are still remnants there? HOw many times will I mummy myself in blankets, trying to physically feel the presence of God with me, knowing that I am not alone, that HE is there?

And even as I struggle with this, I look to the teenage girls who I am blessed with the privilege of working with. They give me glimpses into their lives, their vulnerabilities, and I have done very little to earn their trust. I see a girl who is deeply hurt, who tells everyone she doesn't need anyone, that nothing bothers her...My heart aches for her, knowing she needs someone to chip away at her exterior, to be there with her in the messiness of life, giving her confidence that someone will be there for her. And I see the girl who is asking boys to love her, and realizing she is not content with cheap love...But continuing to go back...And as much as my heart aches over their lives, the lack of support and leadership and love in their lives, I realize that there is part of them in me, too.

(how about that for some verbal diarrhea?)

Monday, October 6, 2008

The last night

Some thoughts on the recent death of one of my patients, my last night in the ICU. He was young, but had been sick his entire life. Although he had been sick for so long, we had hope, he was listed for a transplant, and had a spirit that made it seem like he wouldn't let death take him.

I simultaneously want to hear it and block it out.
Wanting to compartmentalize like a good dr, take care of other patients
But at the same time, wanting to immerse myself in the realness of their pain
Feel it with them, feel the rhythm of their mournful wailing
Feel the depth of it resonate in my soul.
For once I don’t want to be sterile, efficient, getting things done, checking off boxes

Three women sit at his bedside, more crowded near the door
It is reminiscent of a biblical scene
Their hands, rubbing oil into his young arms
As his head, suddenly lifeless, remains unmoving, eyes rolled back
Just a sliver of white visible, in the slightly parted lids
Reveals that his soul is already departed.
The hum in the corner, white noise of the machine, moving breaths in and out
The shell of his body, slowly expanding and contracting

Like a thief in the night, sneaking away his soul, while we were off guard,
Humbling us again and letting us know loudly that we can’t control
Looking to the skies, our faith again affirmed by our need, our abrupt knowledge that we are not God.

I pause for a moment, and allow myself to listen through the wall
The chosen three are singing
I wonder how they choose, how they know
Their deep, soulful voices harmonize,
Originating from the depths of their souls
It is almost too beautiful to listen to
If you heard it, it would break your heart.

They continue their vigil all night
Anointing his body
Singing, wailing, as their own hearts break
The morning rays break through the slats of the blinds
And they know it is time, they stop their singing and sobbing
The room is quiet
The hum of the machine stops
The air stops moving.
His body stops it’s cycle – up and down with the machine.
And it is done.
Solitary tears fall from their eyes.
They whisper to him:

“You are finally free of this body”
“You are home now”