I reread Friday’s post, and it seems like forever ago. I’ve just slept for about 12 hours straight after yesterday’s call. Saturday was no better than Friday, but somehow easier to deal with because there was less chaos, fewer cooks in the kitchen and a shared grief by the entire staff for the patient that died Friday night. She had been in the hospital for nearly 300 days, and had become everyone’s best friend. We are holding a service for her in a week or so, and the turnout is expected to be high enough that it will be held in the auditorium. Attendings that have never expressed an emotion came in to the ICU yesterday to let us know how much they will miss her.
So then what happened on Saturday?
The majority of the day was spent performing “brain death” criteria on a woman in her 50s who had suffered a sudden rupture of a massive cerebral aneurism. She lost consciousness instantly, acording to her husband…she just collapsed and never woke up. When it became clear that her brain had ceased to function but her body lived on, we started the long process of confirmation, contacting the organ transplant service and working hard to help her now “headless” body continue to function for the sake of a liver, kidneys and heart that could help save another’s life. THat’s really the only thing that helped the night pass without becoming overwhelmed with grief once again. Her family and husband were present, said goodbye, and signed the organ donor paperwork prior to heading home for a drug induced sleep…their first rest for 48 hours.
By 8 AM, she was in the OR for harvesting of her liver, both kidneys, pancreas and corneas. Coincidentally (?) two patients on our own kidney transplant waiting list came in to our ED this morning for final organ type matching.
On the procedure side, “my” intern, did a fantastic central line access with great technique and a little coaching from me. He told me that doing procedures with me was a lot more helpful than doing procedures with the other upper levels. That makes the frustration of trying to teach central access skills all worthwhile.
When I got home, I laid down on the couach at about 10AM, and have just woken up. I normally only need about 3 or 4 hours of sleep post call, but I guess that past week is catching up with me. We’ll see what tomorrow’s day in the ICU holds…