Saturday, July 28, 2012

Battlechicken's July Challenge - Do you REALLY want to know about me?

Ambermist's July Challenge has the whole blogosphere abuzz.  The inspirational Battlechicken has shared some of herself with us and invited us to do the same.
Give me a detail about  yourself. 
You can tell me something about your gaming personality or about your favorite color. You can tell me how you got started playing the game you love to play. You can tell me how gaming affects your life.
Or you can get personal, if you want. Tell me about something you fear, something you treasure, something you’ve learned. Tell me about why you write. Tell me about why you play.
Tell me about you, because from what I can see, you’re pretty cool. :-)
There are some amazing stories out there.  So many I can't count.  Some are terrifying stories, others are fantastic memories; some are happy, and others are sad.  Some tell us the real story behind the person.

My real life profession as altered my outlook on life.  What is this outlook, you ask?

I live every day like it's my last.  I don't take anything for granted.

I have seen a lot of death.  I have a healthy respect for it.  Death can be unexpected, it can be heartwrenching.  Sometimes it is welcome, and a relief.  I have wondered if some of these people knew that these moments would be their last.  And I don't take death lightly.  People may think that doctors are cold, unfeeling, unsympathetic when it comes to death, but remember, dealing with the constant pain of death and dying would drive you crazy.  This is probably their coping mechanism.  Or maybe it's only these people who can cope with all the death around them, the compassionate ones would have had mental breakdowns by now.

This sounds strange and macabre, but I remember every person who has died in front of me.  The memory of them stays with me always, as a reminder that life is a fragile little thing.
  • There was a young man, car accident, head split open, brain on show.  Clearly not going to survive, but somehow was still breathing when he arrived in the emergency department.  Some of his brains and blood dripped onto my shoes while I was trying to put a breathing tube into him.  He didn't even make it out of the trauma room.  The stain on my shoes reminded me for 2 months of how quickly a life can be snuffed out.  I should have thrown those shoes away, but I would look at them and think this is one of the last things remaining of him, can't throw it away... yeah I know, I'm a bit strange.
  • 8 year old girl, front seat passenger, car accident, face and head smashed into dashboard.  Head bleeding, she was dying.  Her brain was too damaged, too swollen.  I tried to keep her alive for transfer to the children's hospital after we drained the blood from her head, but her injuries were unsurvivable, and she was too unstable to transport.  I could prolong her life but for what?  She could die on transfer to the children's hospital, alone.  So I made a very hard decision.  I called her parents in, to sit next to her and turned off her life support.  I let them sit with her as she passed away.  All my nurses were crying.  My registrars (training doctors under me) were in shock and stunned.  I COULDN'T cry because everyone was looking to me to debrief them.  I cried all the way home.
  • The 50 year old man, who somehow survived his massive stroke by removing half his skull to relieve the pressure on his brain, suddenly had a blockage of his breathing tube.  He suffocated in front of my eyes, even though we tried to replace the tube, but we couldn't push the air in.  There was a blockage somewhere and the air wouldn't go in.  What a HORRIBLE way to die, suffocating to death... :(  I cried for 2 days.
  • The 65 year old man with terrible heart disease who was warned that he could die from the operation on his blocked arteries in his leg.  Sailed through the operation, made it to the recovery room, had a heart attack, lungs filled with fluid from heart failure and shock, and he died.  I was devastated.  I was the last person he saw, he spoke to, before he went to sleep.  I had to go tell the family, and my eyes were red and swollen from crying.  Talk about unprofessional.  They were shocked, but prepared because they knew about his heart.  But it doesn't mean I was OK with him dying on me.  I felt like a failure.
Death, unexpected, sudden, can come at any moment.  You can do one of two things.  You can live your life in terror, seeing death around every corner, never knowing when it will come for you.  But I choose to live my life, and never wishing I didn't do something, never putting off what I really wanted to do, until tomorrow.  Before I go to work, I look at each of my children before I leave, so at least I can see them once in case something happens.  I let everyone I love know that I love them, so I'll never feel like I never told them.  I leave comments on every good post I read, because I may not be able to tell them again, and the moment and what I wanted to say will be lost.

I don't want to be afraid of death, because it will come to all of us eventually.  But I don't want to dwell on death or dying.  Life is what we have now, and I will live it, love it, and be thankful for it.  Because once it's gone, I can never have it back again.

20 comments:

  1. /salute.
    What. an. awesome. post.

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    1. TY Chris :) The compliment you just gave me is massively humbling, though totally unnecessary. And thank you for dropping by!

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    2. I should probably elaborate a bit. This part really got me. "I called her parents in, to sit next to her and turned off her life support. I let them sit with her as she passed away. ".

      I have three children, ages 10, 6 and 3. I am a father to FOUR children, however. My son would be turning 9 this year, but he was dx'd with leukemia when he was four months old. He battled for a year, but ended up passing away when he was 16 months old. I will never forget the team of medical professionals (doctors, nurses, social workers and the rest) that did everything they could to save his life. When it became apparent there was nothing else possible, these doctors all gathered in the Critical Care room (I mean literally a dozen different physicians) and we went around the room -- can anything else be done? Each doc looked us in the eye and explained everything they had tried and that there were no further tricks or hopes. In the end, everyone left the bed. My wife and I held our son as our nurse dropped the rails on the bed so that we could both lay on either side of him, and then she began removing all the IVs and the rest. Once we were ready, she turned off the monitors, pulled out his ventilator, and closed the door. We held our son until he died.
      It sucked then, and it sucks now relating it, but I was very touched with the end of life care and I feel that every person should be allowed to die with dignity and respect. Your post echoed that and touched me.

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    3. Oh Chris :( That brings tears to my eyes. It is something no parent should have to go through, but when you do have to, I am glad that you did it in the best way possible. I can only hope the parents of the child I had tried to work on felt the same way. I think they did.

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  2. This was a great post Navi, thanks for sharing! I have a lot of respect for those who are in the medical field; I have quite a few relatives that are in the medical field and they all have the same experiences. It takes a lot to deal with what you do on a regular basis, I'm not sure I'd be able to handle it.

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    1. You never know until you're actually there. Sometimes, you're just galvanised into action and you don't even know where the will and drive and determination came from. Thank you for the compliment, my friend.

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  3. I've seen how you've changed over the years and you may be still an emotional person but you've shown how strong you can be when you need to be. I wouldn't expect anything less of you as I know who you are as the person behind the player.

    A well written post, I'm sure felt good to get out. Sometimes we all need a reminder of how special 'life' really is and the people who share our journey with us.

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    1. Other than Mab, you have known me the longest, and I am still that same silly person who cries in the movies. I hope that people who read this will try to remember life is short and never put off what is really important because the opportunity to do it may never come again.

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  4. I'm sorry navi but I couldn't read past the 8 year old girl, I had tears rolling out of my eyes, I have the biggest soft spot for children. I have so much respect for what you guys do at hospitals. It's not a job for the weak. You are very headstrong navi, never let anyone put you down :) -Rosh

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    1. Thanks Rosh :) That girl was one of the hardest things I have done, and it was a decision that got me in trouble with my colleagues, but I still stand by what I did, because if it was my child I'd would want the same thing.

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  5. Those people were lucky to have someone who cares with them at the end. I would hope to have someone make the same call for me that you did for the little girl's parents. /hug

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    1. It is a humbling and yet burdensome thing to think you are the last person they would see - a stranger. I feel like somehow I should protect the memory of them a little, even if the memory of them only lives in my head.

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  6. This was a very good read. Being able to work in the medical field and face death is very impressive. I've always had a huge amount of respect for people who work in hospitals.
    Thank you for posting something as powerful as those memories.

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    1. Getsu, thank you for visiting and reading, and for the positive comment :) After reading your story you shared, it just goes to show that there are so many brilliant stories of determination and twists of fate out there, just waiting to be tapped. Thank goodness for Ambermist or I wouldn't now all these stories!

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  7. Hugely in awe of what you do.

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    1. Not sure if there was a lot to be in awe of (as I am listing my failures as a doctor by failing to preserve life) but thank you Erinys /hug

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  8. Navi, you must be the best doctor ever--compassion, strength, and a deep respect for life. I know it must have been hard to recount some of this stuff, but I appreciate it so much. *Hugs* Thank you for the thoughtful response. <3

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    1. Your challenge gave me the forum to put out in writing something that drives me to do many things that I do. So thank YOU Ambermist. Your compliments are going to make my head swell!

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  9. Simply amazing post. I really think you should write more about your experiences like these. I can't read enough!

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    1. Thank you Amijade! I did think of you when I wrote this post, I have to admit. "Amijade said he wanted more work stuff..."

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