Tearing Up

Tonight I teared up.

Not a pro reaction, but EM docs have emotions, too. Sometimes they show up, uninvited. The trick is not to let anybody know about it.

I was asked to assist a colleague with a wound closure (suturing) with his patient. (This is a completely normal request, and one of the reasons my job is wonderful: I ask my colleagues to help me with time-intensive procedures when I’m busy, and they reciprocate. The patients get more timely care, and we don’t have delays over procedures).

On entering the trauma room I noticed the patient had a severe problem: the vent was a clue, and the bolt sealed the impression: Very Sick Individual.

The laceration was ready to go, and I introduced myself to the family at the bedside. They were an elderly couple, completely devistated at the injury their child, one day past the 16th birthday, had just sustained. A closed head injury, from falling off a 4 wheeler, one of those gadgets seemingly designed to throw people off at high speeds. The patient is in a coma, and the parents are trying to cope with their acute reality. A severely brain injured child. Lives changed in an instant.

It’s hard to suture while your eyes are teary listening to “come back to us, sweetie, come back…” We EM docs, as a group, like to put up a brave front, but we’re human.

The wound closure was perfect. My eyes dried quickly.

The patient won’t ever be the same. Me either.