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Medicine & Death

I just found this quote by Dr. Atul Gawande and I wanted to share it:

The simple view is that medicine exists to fight death and disease, and that is, of course, its most basic task. Death is the enemy. But the enemy has superior forces. Eventually, it wins. And, in a war that you cannot win, you don’t want a general who fights to the point of total annihilation. You don’t want Custer. You want Robert E. Lee, someone who knew how to fight for territory when he could and how to surrender when he couldn’t, someone who understood that the damage is greatest if all you do is fight to the bitter end.

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Three Weeks

A 3 week stint at a county hospital isn’t very long. Three weeks, with one day off per week, is 18 days of coming in every day.

But a lot can happen in 18 days. Three weeks is long enough for me to admit a patient, follow the patient for three weeks and watch the patient deteriorate right in front of my eyes.

The patient is not even 30. Young children at home. I doubt the patient will be alive in a week’s time.

Three weeks.

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Overheard In The ED

I remember one time when my team was on-call. It was late at night and the ED was packed. There were beds and chairs lined up in the hallway with makeshift dividers separating patients.

There was one particular patient at the end of the hallway that I had noticed after walking back and forth. He was a scruffy older man who was lying in a gurney, sunglasses in place. He looked like he was resting comfortably enough.

On one of my trips through the hallway, I had just passed him when a nurse walked up to him and asked, “What’s your name, sir?”

Though my back was turned to them I heard him reply in a deep, rough, scratchy voice, “Wolverine.”

“Wolverine?” the nurse asked.

“Yes,” he replied.

I about died with laughter. I never got to meet this character. He wasn’t admitted to our team. But I’m sure it would’ve been fun to treat a superhero.