Sunday, May 15, 2005

Physician's Prayer

I used to lead a youth group in church before the whole clerkship thing started. They sent me a small gift, a poster, and in it was written the Physician's Prayer. I'd like to own the words of that prayer and claim it for myself.

Physician's Prayer
(Author Unknown)

Lord, who on earth didst minister
to those who helpless lay
In pain and weakness hear me now
as unto Thee I pray.

Give to mine eyes the power to see
the hidden source of ill,
Give to my hand the healing touch
the throb of pain to still.

Grant that mine ears be swift to hear
the cry of those in pain,
Give to my tongue the words that bring
comfort and strength again.

Fill Thou my heart with tenderness
my brain with wisdom true
And when in weariness I sink
strengthen Thou me anew.

So, in Thy footsteps may I tread
strong in Thy strength always,
So, may I do Thy blessed work
and praise Thee day by daw.

*****

More on hospital stuff. We recently had a patient who came in 5 days ago with symptoms of obstruction in the intestine. Her abdomen was distended and she was very weak. She was observed for a while and then the decision was made to operate on her. My friend, a co-clerk, assisted in the operation. Upon opening the abdomen, they found a huge tumor at the transverse colon (that part of the large intestine horizontally traversing the upper abdomen). The tumor was unresectable because it was already adherent to the stomach and other surrounding structures. To relieve the obstruction, the residents decided to do an ileostomy. That's a procedure that brings the small intestine out of the abdomen into the surface such that there is a hole from the intestine to the environment -- a site where fecal material can pass through to the outside world, instead of from one's anus, and collected in a bag. Anyway, intra-operatively, the patient started to bleed massively. I was the runner for this procedure so I went back and forth from the blood bank and the OR because they had to transfuse so much blood into the patient. The operation started at 9:30pm and they brought the patient out at 4:30 am (no sleep for everyone!), straight to the Surgical ICU. She was there in the SICU for 3 days. A total of 12 units of blood were transfused (a unit of blood, or a bag, is about half a liter or 500 mL). On the third day at the SICU, the patient's condition just kept on deteriorating that finally, the doctors informed the family that should the patient further deteriorate or have a cardiac arrest (sudden stopping of the heart's pumping action), the doctors will no longer rescusitate the patient as it will only be futile. The family consented. They gave their consent yesterday morning. The patient had cardiac arrest lunch time of the very same day.

Death is very real in my place of work. I've been a witness to patients dying while being rescusitated. I've seen patients bleed to death. The odd thing is that this patient died of cancer. It's the field of medicine I currently want to get into. Do I still want it? I don't know. But something tells me the Lord still wants me there. Maybe clerkship is the time I can be exposed to these types of cases so that when I face my own real patient, slowly being eaten away by such a terrible disease, I'll know how to handle my emotions. But many doctors say one can never be prepared enough to face death and one's mortality. I believe that. That's precisely why I want to go into Oncology. Christ is desperately needed in that field and by His grace, I may be of some help.

1 comment:

wickedsis said...

i am so sorry to hear of your first encounter with a hospital death... how are u handling it? as much as death is a part of life, the pain it brings to all it touches is palpable... this is the very same thing that, i think, would separate you from the rest of the physicians-- the ability to feel for and feel with your patients. i pary you never lose this particular bit of humanity, my friend.