‘Tis the Season

Dried flower

There was a time I believed that the longer I was practicing medicine the easier the dying would get. Practice or callous formation, call it what you will. I just thought it would be easier.

That is not the case, though. 

These long standing relationships, the people I see for years and years, are the hardest to part with even when you are expecting it. It still hurts. And with each passing it brings me closer and closer to my own end.

This is the dying season, it seems, those couple of months after the holidays when everyone who was holding on is now ready to let go. 

Everyone but me. 

Not yet, anyway…

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80 thoughts on “‘Tis the Season

  1. The difficult side to your multifaceted world. There is a book on my ‘to read’ list, Modern Death. Do you know of this young writer, Haider Warraich MD, and his book? I am very much looking forward to reading this!

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  2. I remember as a young grad student taking a course on dying taught by a young prof with advanced breast cancer who had a small child. She was dying too soon, teaching a class about working with the dying. I kinda pressed her on how to get “comfortable” with dying. The best she came up with was read about it, spend time with the dying. This never made me more comfortable, of course I was working in pediatric oncology. Now I am sixty. I did follow her advice and still read about dying, have done so all my life. All I can say about this is I am well read on the subject. 😉

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  3. Hey Victo,

    I’ve heard it said that death imprisoners those it leaves behind so that those transitioning may pass in peace knowing only Love. Perhaps in that way there is a ‘beauty’ in death, which comes with the end of suffering and the acceptance of an eternal forever. All we can do is Love and celebrate the life that was and still is being lived within the memories we hold within.

    Perhaps there is no real defence against thoughts of one’s own mortality? Indeed there are those who believe our mortality is the primary driving force/motivation for life to strive to live.

    I recall you once commenting that a good Physician is never able to wholly remove their emotional investment in their patient, and whilst this offers no comfort in times of sadness, your posting today reaffirms the high quality of care you provide ( the degree of personal professional involvement) and the passion with which you consistently operate. Al your readers will agree with Maggie Wilson’s truthful comment.

    As Gandalf once said to Frodo whilst in the mines of Moria: ‘…All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” I’ve no doubt whatsoever you made the perfect choice for the person you are when pursuing Medicine as a career. As I have said before, you are greatly admired for all you report and reveal of yourself here. Keep smiling 🙂

    Take care in all ways always.

    Namaste

    DN – 21/02/2017

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  4. Sorry Victo. I have a feeling that caring in this way is sign of your commitment to your patients, and that awful part of living and being human…We have to face the end, sometimes way too much

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  5. Everyone in my family always died January through March. We would stand at the cemetery freezing. No one booked a nice June day. We missed each one of them although we wished they would have hung on a little longer. I had a friend who worked in hospice. She said you had to have a mindset for it. Full of compassion but willing to let them pass.

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  6. I’m sorry, Victo, but it only upsets you so much because you’re a caring person. I’ve known doctors who could lose a patient and then immediately leave for a round of golf without so much as blinking. Fortunately, most of my doctors have been more like you.

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  7. Even our most seasoned Hospice care providers still hurt when they lose a patient. I think that is what makes people like you so special at what you do, If you did not care, it would be apparent.
    I never realized that winter was a big time of death… silly me, both my parents died in January and one Grandmother, I never correlated it to hanging on until after the holidays.

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    • When you look at the numbers it is definitely a higher mortality rate during those months. Not super, super higher but higher. There may be other reasons why, though. Like it being cold and flu season. I just know that it is my elderly patients that seem to go after the holidays and families have said more than once how their loved one was soooo looking forward to the holidays.

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  8. When I worked with hospice, each death was a loss, even when expected and even when it was welcome. I like the greater awareness of my own mortality as I age – it reminds me of what’s important and not to sweat the small stuff. ❤ I'm glad your number isn't up. 🙂

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  9. I don’t think it ever gets easier to lose someone we care about. Each time I lose someone I love, I know the grief helps me to appreciate the beauty of my life and theirs too – even more.

    I’m sorry for your loss.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Like poets, doctors need an acquired defense mechanism; otherwise you would be overwhelmed by the beauty and sadnesses ( maybe even the mysterious beauty of the sadnesses) of life — and wander among the people mumbling and sighing– and never get the important work done. You participate in an on-going process of creation and re-creation. It’a difficult gift, or calling.

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  11. I hadn’t thought of this a the reason my dad died on January 21st. But it makes sense. He was doing better in his last month and had not been in the hospital in a while, and his pain was better, so his death was somewhat unexpected, except that he was 85 and had a long history of heart problems. It helps to know he’s back with the love of his life now. Maybe it will help to think of your older patients being with loved ones on the other side.

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  12. My Mom held on until her 90th birthday party (2 years ago, almost exactly). She was looking forward to it so much. She died a week later; I got to her bedside less than an hour before she died (I flew to Jersey from the West Coast). I guess she just stopped holding on…
    j

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  13. It’s what makes you a good Doctor.
    Not like the head of a hospital who leaves intubated patients out of ER, because he will not staff 2-3 more nurses in ER…
    Obviously the mortality rate of intubated patients outside ER is… higher? But that “manager” (and an MD) doesn’t care. Anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

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