Last 2010, my grandfather died. Immediate cause was Cardiopulmonary arrest, he had End-stage Renal Disease. I was still a nursing student then in my 3rd yr, a year full of hospital rotations and Medical Surgical hell. It was in the middle of the school year and I was studying in another city, far from home. My last hours with him was months before he died, during a two week school cancellation due to a typhoon, I was taking care of him in the hospital. I knew he wasn’t doing so well weeks before he died, but still, there was a big part of me believing I’ll go back home during semestral break and I’ll still be able to talk to him. But no.
2011, I graduated and was preparing for the local Nursing Licensure Exam,. My other grandad (father’s dad) was diagnosed with Lung Cancer, stage 4. I received a text one night weeks before the exam, he died already.
Two of the oldest men I love the most have died, while I was taking care of others, fulfilling the requirements to be a professional whose aim is to take care of the ill. And I wasn’t there to take care of them.
Late 2011, a cousin of mine got into a terrible vehicular accident. He got in the ICU, but his GCS is 3. He was unresponsive to anything. Where was I? working in a different hospital. After my shift for the day (the same day he was admitted in the ICU) he was being declared dead already. I was able to take care of him though, post mortem.
2013, I was a first year medical student. March, we were in the last term of the semester. My dad got ill. It started January, but by March 29, he died. I’d tell the story, but recalling it still makes me terribly sad. Suffice it to know that the diagnosis was Liver Cancer. Where was I? Again, pursuing for a profession that aims to prolong life, prevent and cure diseases. But I won’t be doing that to my father will I?
In all honesty, I feel terrible. There I was mastering the art and science of health, taking care of the sick while my loved ones suffer in illness. If I can take care of other people, why was I not with my loved ones during the times they needed me the most? Thinking about that makes me sad, really terribly sad.
But when I remember the old paraplegic man with no one with him, crying silently out of self pity and gratitude while I give him a tepid sponge bath, or the parents of a premature baby boy hugging me out of thanks because I suctioned their son back to life, or the sobbing bouncer thanking me because I cleaned his diabetic foot, and all the countless priceless moments I’ve had throughout my Nursing education and career, and all the moments I will experience when I become an MD, hopefully, I lighten up a bit.
I think about the doctors and nurses who took care of my grandfathers and cousin, I lighten up a lot. God knows the weight of their own problems, but I know that they gave their best care they could give.
I know I will be taking care of a lot people whom I don’t know while some of my loved ones are sick. I will be filling in a lot of death certificates and medical abstracts of lots people including relatives and family members. I will be helping people while my loved ones are in need of help. But as along as there are nurses, doctors and other members of the health care teams around, I know and I can rest assure that they will all be in good hands. I know they won’t be doing it because it’s their job, they’re doing it because when they look at a patient, they don’t see them as a client, they see them as a person they care a lot about.