At the end of clinic, the ER nurses asked me to see a 7 yo boy who was previously healthy and now wasn't responding. A quick history and physical led me to believe he was sick from cyanide poisoning. I quickly gave him the cyanide antidote and within 5 minutes he opened his eyes and was moving around. Within 30 minutes he was sitting up eating.
Later that night, I was called to the ER for an unconscious patient. When I arrived, I found a man who only complained of a headache that morning, and now was unconscious after a seizure. Further examination determined he had suffered a stroke, and likely wasn't going to make it. His family told me he was a pastor and they were devastated that we couldn't reverse his illness. 2 hours later, he died.
Around 3am, I got called to the medical ward for an unconscious patient. I went and found a man in his 30s who was known to have chronic liver disease. He wasn't getting better despite being on the ward for 2 days, his liver and kidneys were failing and he was bleeding in his stomach. All of this combined to make him unresponsive on exam, and once again I had a discussion with the family that their loved one wasn't going to make it.
3 hours later, I got called back to the ward because this man was actually dying now. As I was there, I briefly talked to an old man who had pus in his lung that we drained with a chest tube. He was sitting up talking, his wife at his bedside. I also stopped in to see how Joshua, the 7 yo boy, was doing from the night before. He was sitting up smiling, he put hand out for me to shake, and was ready and anxious to go home. I discharged him and went home to get ready for the start of my day.
One hour later, about when I am getting ready to leave for work, I get a call that the man I was just talking to, whom had the pus drained from his lung, had died and there are 2 patients in the ER. One of the ER pts was a 19 yo young girl who had been sick for a few days, with diarrhea, shortness of breath and cough. She looked really sick. I gave her some IV fluid and antibiotics, ordered blood tests and an Xray, then I went to see the patients in the medical ward. Just after rounds, I checked back on this young girl and found out she was HIV positive. Her parents were at her bedside as she passed away before our eyes.
Within 12 hours, 4 people, that I had cared for, had died. I don't always know what to do with all the death I see here. I often wonder if there was something I could have done differently, but too often, the next patient distracts me with the attention that they need and I am forced to move on. I wish all disease could be reversed like cyanide poisoning with a medicine that restores our health. Death has no prejudice for young or old, man or woman - it comes for us all. Just as within a night of death and darkness there was a ray of hope in Joshua, who lived, survived and went home. There is also can be a ray of hope in our lives amidst the darkness and the suffering - Christ. He doesn't stop us from dying or stop the suffering we face, but He strengthens us as we go through it and walks with us. I don't understand it all, but I know He is with us. John 8:12 says, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."