first death

26 Apr

My patient died on the operating room table today.  Gunshot wound to the chest.

I performed the primary and secondary survey.  It just occurred to me that I was probably the last person to whom he spoke.  When assessing his airway and level of consciousness, he responded appropriately when I asked him his name and that of our current president.  When prompted, he gave me two thumbs up.  Then he was intubated and had chest tubes placed, and we wheeled him into the OR.  And three hours later he was dead.  He was less than 25 years old.


3 Responses to “first death”

  1. Jim Oppenheimer April 27, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

    It is a tough reality that when we are caregivers to a large number of people, we will be stared down by Death from time to time. It happened to me several times, although, not being a medical person, there was some distance. I still remember my first. A secretary ran up to me in the hallway and gasped that so-and-so had hanged himself and they didn’t think they could save him. The entire unit was hit hard because this was a very young man who wanted to die, secondary to a severe thought disorder. He was on constant one-to-one supervision. He went to the lavatory and was given privacy. The staff thought he was ok at that moment and didn’t wish to further humiliate him by watching him void.

    We got over it after a time, but I found it never got easier. Of course, one might well say, if it ever really gets easier, go get a job selling shoes or whatever….

    Big hug for you!!


    • annaojesus April 27, 2012 at 3:06 pm #

      Thanks Jim. That is quite a story, and I’m really happy you shared it, though so sorry it happened. I think I’m okay with it not getting easier. To be honest, in a way, it was a privilege to get to be there. He was so scared but, even though we had only just met it, it truly did not feel like he died alone…if that makes any sense (maybe not right now, I’m feeling less than coherent). Thank you, and big hugs right back to you!


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