Monday morning, I made my way to the medical ward to start rounds. I hadn't been there in a couple weeks, so the patients were new to me, and I was taking some time reviewing their charts and getting to know them. I got to bed 7 and found Pena, a man of about 50 yo. Pena was sitting up in bed, his R leg with tape on the sides of it attached to a weight, pulling his R femur straight because he broke his hip.
He had pain in his leg for about a month and then fell and came in. When he came in, the xray showed that he had broken his hip. We put him in traction and were hoping in 4-8 wks he would be going home. Unfortunately, he started to get short of breath and cough. We got an Xray, which I looked at that Monday and found his lungs were full of metastatic cancer. Most likely, the cancer had affected his hip too, causing the fracture.
After looking at his Xray, I had to tell him and his son about his prognosis. These conversations are never easy. One moment the patient thinks he is okay, thinks he just has a broken hip and will be going home in 1 month, and the next his life has changed. He no longer has an unending road ahead of him, the end of the road for him is getting closer.
As I explained his condition to him and his son, the tears started rolling down his cheeks. Not all patients understand when you tell them they have cancer and there is nothing we can do, but Pena sure did. Not only did Pena understand, but his son did too. As I saw the tears down his cheeks, I looked over at his son and found the tears on his cheeks too.
I asked if he goes to church and he assured me that he did. He said like Paul, for him if he lives that is okay and if he dies, that is okay too. I had been holding it together, but when he said that, the tears started flowing down my cheeks too. I took his hand and without words we kept talking. I finally pulled it together enough to pray for and with him, but the tears kept coming down his face and his son's.
We talked some more and they chose to take him home to be with his family in his last days. Pray for Pena and his family during these last days, pray for his faith to remain strong in the One who loves each of us.