Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Longest Walk

The hall is not THAT long, but I really feels like it.  I have led the procession of family to that room so many times and it never gets easy.  What are they thinking?  What kind of terrible things are running through their minds? Or do they just have a sinking feeling? Are they in shock? Numb? No doctor ever ask to speak to a family in "the room" to tell them good news.  Down the hall and around the corner to the "family room."  It sits right next to the social workers' office.  4 small walls that have seen so much anguish, a little piece of hell on earth.  I HATE taking families to this room but this week it was even harder than usual.

I've been taking care of him off and on for 2 years.  21 years old, way to young for this.  2 years of intensive chemotherapy for what was supposed to be a "curable" leukemia.  He did go into remission but there was no bone marrow donor.  Now there is a donor but the leukemia came back so we gave him more chemo and put him back into remission.  He was supposed to go to MD Anderson on Wed for his transplant but he got to sick for transplant.  No problem, get him over the illness and then transplant him.  I was the lucky person who realized it was back again. Sitting with the pathologist, reviewing the slides, questioning "are you sure?"  Yes, it is back for the 3rd time.  This is it.  Nothing left for him.

He is awake and wants to fight.  Wants more chemo, more options, but there are not any.  He elects for intubation and doing "everything possible," even though we know there is nothing except a miracle.  His parents at his bedside and trying to be strong, strong for him, and strong for his brother.   They know it is over but they have to respect his wishes.

Now he is intubated, sleeping, dying.  They keep a 24 hr bedside vigil just waiting for him to die.  They know it is coming, we all do, but when?  He has touched us all in so many ways.  We are all preoccupied with him, we are all sad, we are all praying.  He starts his last ditch line of chemotherapy tonight.  It won't work, we know it, but he begged for it.  These are his wishes.  I hope he stays asleep.  He doesn't need to suffer anymore.  21 years old, I don't understand.  


He is still here but things are not looking much better.


Heather said...

What an eloquent commentary from our side of the white coat. Well-said.

What a blessing that you are there for this family right now, that they've known you, and you've been down this road together.

K J and the kids said...

This is what makes you so special.
Because you are able to do this. Not many people can handle these types of situations.

It makes me sick that he is still fighting. It makes me think he's not done, or that he's scared...and that it's over for him is wrong.

I too am glad that he has you on his side.

Jen said...

Shit. That totally sucks. I don't know how you all do it. I'd be in tears all the time.

Kerry said...

Jess, I'm coming out of lurkdom because of how this post hit me. You may remember me from Mere's old October 02 Board. We met in St. Louis and Ohio.

It's so nice to hear the sensitivity of a doctor who sees and does this every day. I'm sure the family will remember you as a positive part of their nightmare.

weese said...

peace, doctor.

amy said...

absolutely awful!

Rachel said...

He's as old as me..that's really upsetting to hear.
He's lucky to have someone as wonderful as you. I think God has put he and you in each other's lives and even though there's pain, joy will someday come from your encounters with one another. :/
God bless you

Heather said...

Just thinking about you this week and wondering what else has happenend in this story. We're all anxiously awaiting an update whenever you're ready... ((Hugs))