My Reminder

“I love you.” How often do we forget to say it?

You may have heard of the daily devotional Morning Rounds. It’s a collection of short stories written by students, faculty, and friends of Loma Linda University School of Medicine:

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I was excited to hear that recently they have begun accepting submissions for a new devotional book, called Evening Rounds. Following the same tradition as its predecessor, it will feature daily stories from those related to the School of Medicine. The following blog post is my submission, and if accepted by the editorial staff, a “sneak peak” at a great new devotional, expected for a holiday 2013 release. Hope you like it! 🙂

“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.” Proverbs 27:1 NIV

It was the holiday season and I found myself in the Emergency Department. No I wasn’t sick, but being an enthusiastic second-year medical student, I was excited just to observe a variety of cases that day, everything from headaches to heart failure to necrotizing fasciitis.

Towards the end of my shift, I was told an ambulance was bringing in an older gentleman with chest pain. Not knowing what to expect, I waited quietly in the back of the trauma room while staff hurriedly prepared for his arrival.

The ED doors burst open and in came a gurney with a large man, surrounded by two paramedics with a third on top performing chest compressions.  The casual nature by which they had announced his transport made me believe he only needed some oxygen and nitroglycerin to relieve angina, but the way in which this scene exploded to life let me know that something was very wrong.

For the next 20 minutes, I tried to comprehend what was unfolding in front of me.  Drugs were pushed, compressions were continued, even an electrical shock was given, all in a desperate effort to try and restart this man’s heart. Nothing was helping. This man is going to die right in front of me, I thought to myself.

Confirming my suspicions, the physician in charge looked up with a grim face and began announcing a time of death. But suddenly, a woman pushed her way into the room. “Stop holding me back, he’s my husband!” she said. The physician seemed surprised by her abrupt appearance for only a moment then ordered another round of medications.

“This happens all the time,” the patient’s wife said as she looked at me. “Just give him some juice and we can get back to our dinner.”

This continued for another 10 minutes, staff looking around awkwardly, knowing what was about to happen. The physician finally stopped, walked over to the patient’s wife, and gingerly began telling her that her husband had passed away. I’ve watched this scene enacted on various television programs, but nothing could have prepared me for what came next. The room filled with the sound of sorrow, a cry of realization that your loved one wouldn’t be coming home.

Having never witnessed death before, I quickly left the room, holding back my own tears as sounds of anguish followed. I sat down at the physician’s station, trying to hide my emotion when the doctor sat down next to me and let out a big sigh. He quietly said, “You know, it never really gets any easier. But the thing that brings me back to work is knowing it doesn’t always end like that.”

Death is an inevitable part of life. But you never know where or when you are going to experience it. And though you may have heard it before, I want to say this again: Take time to tell your loved ones how much you care for them. Life is so precious, and you never know when or where it may change.  Don’t live in fear of that, but as the busyness of this holiday season approaches, take time to express those three precious words… I love you.

*For more information on submitting your own story to Evening Rounds, please visit: http://www.llu.edu/evening-rounds/

IMG_1065Completely Unrelated Picture of Me Celebrating my 25th birthday! 🙂