family practice issues and general life events

Unexpected loss

As a physician, I always thought that the hardest part of my job was to tell someone that they probably have cancer, or some other potentially fatal disease.  Or to tell a family that their loved one is not going to make it.  Well, yesterday, I found out that is not correct.

Yesterday afternoon, one of my staff died suddenly, unexpectantly.  That is probably the most difficult thing.  Except I think that my husband had it worse.  He was actually in the Emergency Room as they were coding her.  I was only at the office pretending that it was just an ordinary patient that he had run over to take care of, trying not to let the staff know, that one of their friends and collegues was over there.  (we would have told them after work, but didn’t want to make their day impossible)  Was that the wrong decision?  I don’t know.  It was the one that seemed best at the time.  But when he came back, he didn’t say anything, he merely had tears in his eyes, and shook his head.  One of my other employees had already heard from the husband of the previously mentioned staff member.

Well there was no getting around it at that point. We now had to let everyone know the cause of the tears, but they already knew why.  They had known that she had called in sick that morning, and they had known that she had been sent to the ER at lunch time.  So they knew.  Through the tears we made it through the day.  Didn’t know what else to do.  It was a horrible afternoon.

And this is the worst part of being a doctor.  Last night,  I spend my whole night thinking about the night before, wondering if I had missed something, but could not find anything.  And I didn’t.  And that is not healthy.  And today, we are here back at work.  There is less laughter, we are all a little sad.  But we have to go on living. 

The worst part was seeing the spot where she parked, and knowing she would not be there.  People who could have parked closer haven’t.  But we are going through our day, not knowing what else to do.  Right now, we are trying to decide how to move forward.  But it is sad, knowing that she will not be greeting people at the front window.  She won’t be there everyday with a smile.  Knowing that we could not have done anything to save her.  That is the hardest part.


Comments on: "Unexpected loss" (4)

  1. I feel for your loss.
    Wishing you well.


  2. Doc,

    Having formerly been a funeral director for many years, I can appreciate your professional struggles with this, and empathize with the deep loss you all feel.

    My prayers for, and deepest sympathies to you and your staff.

    • thank you for the kind words. It is difficult, both personally and professionally. And while the logical part of my mind knows that nothing could save her, I keep running through it thinking could I have prevented it. And the best answer I can give it maybe, but even if she had been in the hospital, she would not have survived. So right now, my logic is battling with my emotions. But hopefully soon, I will start just remembering how she touched our lives

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