I was watching The Fault in Our Stars today, for the umpteenth time, after a miserable day at work. It did not help.
People say doctors are amazing. They save lives. Today I wasn’t one of those people. I can’t deal with fatal illnesses. I can’t handle bad news, even though that’s basically my job description. I tell myself, be strong, and I go back to being, well, me.
I didn’t want to talk about this, and I didn’t want another sad post. I realize now, that it’s basically my life. Maybe someday, I will get used to it. Maybe someday I’ll learn to shut myself down and not melt at the sight of my patient looking at me like that. Bambi eyes. Full of hope. Even though she knows the chances of survival are bleak, she’s praying you’d tell her otherwise. That you’d tell her she’s going to live.
And I never know how to deal with that. And a part of me dies each time.
You walk into the ward and your patient presents with a lump in the breast, discolored, ulcerated, almost reeking of death. Terminal cancer. Mets everywhere. Even after removal of the breast, and the affected lymph nodes, you know she won’t survive. At some point she’s going to say no to chemo. At some point she’s going to give in to the pain. At some point, it’s goodbye.
I’ve never felt more helpless. I can’t even save a life. And why must cancer almost always win?
The loss a new doctor feels after losing a patient to cancer is unfathomable. As you grow older, you learn to keep your emotions in check, I’ve heard. I’m hoping, again, I stop feeling the loss before it kills me.
One thing’s for certain, I’m never taking up surgery in the future.