Saturday, December 22, 2012

A New Day Dawns

The sky is always darkest before the dawn
When a "code blue" is called in the hospital it means that a patient is not breathing and that every doctor and nurse goes running to help that patient. As a newly minted doctor, when our second code blue was called last night I knew I was not going to be very helpful. But as I observed my colleagues attempt to save the patient's life, my focus and heart were drawn to the distraught parents weeping in the corner of the room.

I maneuvered toward them as best I could in the crowded room. They clung to each other as they wept over their child. I put my arms around the mother to help her stand strong for her child. I explained as best I could every detail to the father as the team struggled to save his baby. And I mustered all my strength to keep from weeping with them. For though I can't fathom the pain of losing a child, I too am losing a family member to cancer.

My father was diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma last January. We have known for a while this was a possibility, but the news still stung. I won't lie, it took me 6 months of therapy to fully grasp all my emotions. And lately, as his prognosis has gotten shorter and his options fewer and his quality of life poorer, I find that I am distancing myself from the situation.

When I was home for Thanksgiving, my dad had a really bad day, which included some incontinence. Without thinking, I put him in the shower and began to clean. I didn't realize I had completely gone into "work-mode" and shut off all emotional ties. How terrible! It wasn't until later that I realized what I had done and how cold that must have seemed to him.

My dad was admitted to the hospital again yesterday for critical blood counts. And as I stood next to that family I wondered who would be standing next to my family when we were in the same situation, something not too far down the road. And then I thought about the families who lost loved ones in Newtown, CT, last week. Who was there with them? Who was with each life before it was taken too early?

I left the hospital with a heavy heart and I am writing this with a heavier one. Though I am on my way to see my family, I know this could be the last time I see my dad alive or as well as he is. And I remind myself we do not know the hour or the day, we can only enjoy the now.

I want to leave you with that. Enjoy the now. Don't waste it. Don't spend it fighting. Don't part without I love you's. Embrace it! Live in it! Be it!

Enjoy the now.