Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I love my job.

I really do.

I love getting to walk with families through this difficult cancer journey and help support them along the way. I love joking around with teenagers and helping them cope with this new battle that they are facing. I love holding sweet babies in my arms and praying over them that God would intervene and kill the nasty disease that is raging within them. I love watching little bald kids ride around on tricycles and laugh and just be kids. But, unfortunately, sometimes the treatments that we have are just not strong enough to beat the diseases.

Sometimes kids die.

That's a part of my job, too. I hate that part. But, sometimes, there are circumstances even in the process of dealing with a death that help to lighten the moment a bit.

Recently, one of our end-stage patients died on a night shift. For some reason, kids often die at night. I don't know why. Because I work at a teaching hospital, night shifts are staffed by interns and residents. So, when this child died, the nurse called the on-call doctor to let him know. The conversation went something like this:

Nurse: Dr. Second-Year Resident (note that he was not even a first year), I am calling to let you know that our sweet little friend in room 123 is no longer breathing.

Dr Second-Year: Well, how does he look?


Nurse: (not sure how to respond) Ummm...he looks dead.

Again I say...SERIOUSLY??

What do you think he looks like??
I mean...I guess he's nonresponsive, cool, vital signs are not-so-stellar, cap refill not-so-great...

You may think the whole conversation a bit disturbing, but we laughed and laughed about it. Sometimes you just have to. It's a little scary to think that Dr Second-Year is responsible for the lives of children. But don't worry...that's what the great nurses on my floor are for :-)


aok said...

Believe me, Dr. First Year, Second year, and third year are very thankful there are great nurses like you! Although, even as a Dr. First Year, I don't think I quite responded to a nurse like that! Your post gave me quite a laugh too! Hope you're doing well! We really do need to catch up in person soon! Miss you! :)

Julie Tiemann said... not sure how to respond to that. ;) Let's hope he was just caught in the middle of something and wasn't thinking clearly at that moment...