This morning, I was covering for another co-senior. In fact, I was the only senior today, with three interns on the cancer ward.
I was paged- a patient was found unresponsive.
I ran over there, called that patient's intern to come over. I found her eyes rolled upwards, completely nonresponsive to pain/verbal stimuli, and with agonal breathing.
No pulse was palpable. We started immediate chest compressions. My heart was pounding.
The code went on for longer than half an hour. My heart skipped a beat when someone felt a pulse. But then the machine said to analyze rhythm- she lost her pulse. Or she never got it back in the first place.
6 shocks. 3 epinephrine shots. Calcium. Sodium bicarb. Everything failed. She remained pulseless.
Everybody was looking to me. I was the code leader.
It was running for more than half an hour. I did what I had to do. I didn't want her life to end in vain, to end without trying. Her unresponsiveness was unexpected. She was well this morning, 3 different doctors had assessed her at different times, and she looked good to each one.
Until she was found, unresponsive.
I called the code off. Called her time of death. Pronounced her.
I don't remember what ran through my head- but I felt like my soul came out and I was looking at everything around me. We gave it our best shot.
I walked away, feeling strange. Thought of everything possible, and what else more?
The cardiology fellow came, and tears suddenly came streaming down. I couldn't hold it back for some reason. I tried keeping my cool. I wiped them away...
I wanted to make sure I had done everything. Although this pt was admitted by another team, but this morning's incident, she had become my patient.
It was that intern's first code blue- and that intern's first patient death. I know she's still in shock for now, trying to hold everything together.
I called the husband up, and he broke down on the phone, and cried. He was upset, angry and heartbroken. That was when my heart broke. I met them in person, and couldn't comfort them.
They needed their time with the patient.
I had talked this case over with my two attendings and my fellow- this came as a complete surprise.
I told my intern who was still feeling numb 'you never get used to losing a patient. Never'.
In contrast to what people think, a compassionate doctor is one who never loses his/her emotions and the human touch.
May you rest in peace.