Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Unit

I am back on the ICU, a month I have dreaded for a while. A little scary to be the senior resident on a month where you have to lead codes, where daily you make decisions affecting people’s mortality, etc. That said, it has been ok. I have been working with the right people, and I have had what I needed to handle any given situation at any point. Thank God. It is a tenuous balance. I led my first code without incident, put in more lines than I can count. Dealt with strokes, heart attacks, brain herniations, death, sepsis. Have gotten commended in the morning on some decisions, on others got yelled at and called an idiot. Business as usual in the ICU.

More than ever, I am acutely aware of my own mortality. Every day people show up at the ICU dancing on the line between death and life. For some of them, it is an expected outcome of a longstanding disease, for some of them, it was the result of a sudden, unexpected, life stopping event. Some of them make it out, some of them don’t. I have watched families cry at the bedside, I have watched patients breathe alone on the ventilator, and wondered where there families are. I have watched peace in some people’s eyes as they depart from this world, knowing there is something better beyond. And fear in others, as they realize they are losing control.

And in this life, with air thick and fogged with emotion and death, I feel like I am treading through. Wanting to grab onto my own family, want to make my life meaningful. I get addicted to being in that transitional space, while at the same time wanting to run away and sleep for days.

7 more days.

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