For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
(Jeremiah 29:11-13, KJV)
One of my very sick patients passed away today. She was a 36 year-old female, admitted for generalized weakness and fevers. She had a prior cervical decompensated– becoming neutropenic and coagulopathic, in full-blown disseminated went into respiratory failure. Her hemoglobin dropped from 10 to 4; she was bleeding everywhere– vaginally, from her central line site, from the biopsy site, and from her stomach. Suddenly, at 2:00p.m., I received a page; and an overhead intercom voice announced “Code Blue, Two South.” I knew it was my patient. My co-intern and I ran to the code.
A few minutes into the effort, I was urged to find the patient’s husband. He entered the intensive care unit looking dumbfounded, and I explained what was going on. He slowly walked into the room, now jam-packed with nurses, respiratory therapists, residents, and medical students– one of whom was performing chest compressions. The husband looked on in silence for what seemed like an eternity, then finally threw up his hands and said: “Okay, let’s stop.” A total of twelve minutes had passed since the code had begun, and the patient was declared dead. The patient’s husband began weeping– a strange cry that was lacking in physical tears but full of agony– as he held the hand of his beloved, deceased wife, and the mother of his two children.
We allowed the husband time to mourn in solitude, after which I returned to speak with him. By this time, he was calm and collected. He proceeded to tell the nurse and me how much he appreciated what we had done for his wife, and how he knew we did everything in our power to keep her alive. He then turned to me, clutched my hand in his, and proceeded to tell me that he appreciated me and what I had done; and that as I grew older, I would gain more wisdom and learn how to help people all the more. Tears began to well up in my eyes as he was thanking and building others up during this most delicate moment of life. It took all of my energy to keep from crying, but somehow I managed to blink away the tears.
It was in this moment that I realized what a blessed opportunity every healthcare worker has to touch the lives of patients and their families. What a privilege it is, a God-given gift, to be entrusted with the care of the sick and dying. I realize that, as a future ophthalmologist, I will no longer be regularly involved in such critical life-death situations. But it is my deepest desire to learn to use my education and training for His glory, to lift others up in their time of need, and ultimately to lift up Jesus Christ. May this be your prayer as well.
–Janie Yoo, LLUSM class of 2006