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death in family during internship

Discussion in 'General Residency Issues' started by gherelin, Sep 25, 2002.

  1. gherelin

    gherelin Member
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    Sorry to have such a depressing post, but I was wondering whether anyone else has gone through this and had any advice. i can't even imagine being able to go back to work after having been on the other side of the bed so to speak for the last 3 months.
    thanks.
     
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  3. isidella

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    Hi,
    I have not been through it but one of my best friends (female pgy2 surgery resident) has. Her father was dx with small cell LC and given one month. She quit her residency at MUSC and went to utah. After her fathers passing, she essentially transferred into residency there to stay by her mother's side for moral support. On all sides, she was supported and noone really gave her a hard time. A happy ending, (sort of). . .
     
  4. neutropeniaboy

    neutropeniaboy Blasted ENT Attending
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    __________________
    I may not agree with what you say, but to your death I will defend your right to say it

    - Voltaire, In Freedom


    Just as an aside: the woman who authored the above statement regarding Voltaire shamefully retracted that Voltaire ever said this.
     
  5. isidella

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    I hate it when this happens. . .

    If you prefer:
    "Je ne suis pas d'accord avec ce que vous dites mais je d?fendrai jusqu'? la mort votre droit de le dire."

    Even if EB Hall coined the phrase, she was in fact paraphrasing Voltaire's "Essay on Tolerance

    The debate rages on. . .
     
  6. gherelin

    gherelin Member
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    [/QUOTE]

    Thanks Isidella for sharing your friend's experience. How is she doing now? I lost my mother, diagnosed with breast cancer and then gone in only 3 months. Going back to internship would mean almost completely shutting myself off from family because of the hours and I can't imagine doing that right now, or being able to face patients and families. I wish I'd been a computer programmer or something...
     
  7. gungho

    gungho gungho
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    I'm quite removed from your time (finished med school in '82), but my father was dx'ed w/ squa. cell Ca of lung, metastatic to pelvis-wasn't able to attend my med school grad. Died when I was on medicine rotation in Sept of my 1st year of FP. Wasn't able to be around much (was 2 hr away), was tough, but program faculty and co-residents were very understanding. After 20 years, I can say time helps but no quick fixes.
     
  8. womansurg

    womansurg it's a hard life...
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    gherelin,

    I'm so very sorry about your mother.

    My father - who had always been my sole caregiver and so was both mom and dad for me - was dx'd with metastatic melenoma my first year of medical school. I took a year long leave of absence to help care for him between first and second year, and he passed away about 2 weeks before classes restarted for me.

    It was nearly incapacitating for me to deal with cancer patients and their families during my clinical years of med school. I so strongly identified with their pain and fear. It literally made me almost physically ill. There were many times I would have to leave rooms to collect myself, and many more that I just cried openly with patients and families.

    There is absolutely no doubt that I am a better physician now because of those experiences however. The trauma subsides in time - yes, it does, I promise. Eventually the rawness of your emotions fade and you can tolerate being in those trigger situations without feeling like it is tearing your heart out. Many, many times I have since dealt with families and end-of-life patients, to have them tell me that I made a tremendous difference in their ability to cope.

    Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk about your feelings and your recent experiences, with friends, with families, with a counselor if you like...with us! It helps.

    ws
     
  9. gherelin

    gherelin Member
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    Thank you so much JK and WomanSurg. Knowing how others went through this and were able to stay in medicine means a lot to me right now. I think it's hard for people who aren't in medicine to understand how that particular piece affects your feelings. It's been a week today and I've finally stopped dreaming every night about her last moments and the nights napping at her bedside in the ICU with the ventilator horn and the monitor alarms and the drips going off constantly. WS, your description of your feelings brought tears to my eyes. It's exactly how I've been feeling-like I'd be physically ill. One of the attendings had a scare not long ago with his wife and came in to noon conference with red eyes and a shaky voice--they went on with the conference, but the grief and fear coming from him felt to me like electricity crackling around the room--I couldn't concentrate on anything but that and had to leave. My father is ill too, btw, with metastatic prostate ca, dx about 2 months before my mother, (neither having been screened by their pmd)on hormones, doing ok so far--our fear and sense of loss about his dx was put on the back burner when my mother was dx because her situation was so much worse. Going back to work will also mean having his health on my mind all the time. He wants me to go back, but he lives 4 hours away (with my sister) and with an intern schedule of just 1 day off/week, I don't know how I'd ever see him. There's no residency program much closer but he refuses to move up here....I just don't know what to do about any of this.
     
  10. pimmar

    pimmar Member
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    gherelin,

    I am so sorry to hear about your loss, I can really relate because, tomorrow it will be a month since my father passed away. I am in my 4th year of med school, so less rigorous than an intern year. Never the less, it was still pretty devastating for me, I had just begun my med sub I clerkship, and I was post call (2nd day) when I suddenly take off to go down to Florida to go help take care of things. I guess my situation is a bit different, I had not seen my father for almost 3 years, and just the month prior to his death I got to spend the entire month with him while I did my peds sub I in Miami. So I consider myself very fortunate to have spent that time with him, yet I kept feeling like I could have done something being in the medical field and all. I know his death was sudden, but somehow I always feel like perhaps if I had been there another week I could have somehow picked up on some warning signs. Well needless to say, everyone at my IM sub I rotation was so supportive and wonderful, and my only way to cope was to get back to work. Although the first week back I did feel kind of spacey, not concentrating too well. When I would see patients occasionally I would think about my dad as well. However, with time I felt that this is exactly what he would have wanted, for me to get back to my work, and now having an even stronger motivation to attain my goals which is what made him so proud. As far as wanting to live closer now to your dad, I can also relate, my mom is pretty old, and I am all she has. Before my dad's death, I had wanted to apply to residency programs all over the country, location didn't matter, but after my dad died, I suddenly didn't want to be far from my mom. So I have compromised by applying to most programs close to home, but also keeping several programs further away but at least on the East coast. In your case maybe you can have your dad come stay by you a few months out of the year, maybe when you are on electives when you won't be as busy. I don't know how bad your dad's prostate ca is, but I have seen patients live for quite awhile with prostate cancer ca. even with mets. Just hang in there it will take awhile--it won't be easy, but you will get through this and I am sure your mom will have wanted you to go on and be the best doc you could be. Find the strength, in friends, family, and call people. Call friends when you don't want to be alone, just don't shut people around you out. Hang in there, and again I am sorry about your mom.
     
  11. gherelin

    gherelin Member
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    Thank you so much Pimmar for sharing your story. I too felt like I should have been able to do something and tried to control almost every aspect of her tx despite knowing almost nothing (and knowing that we shouldn't try to treat our families)--I just hope I didn't make it worse for her. I think you may have been lucky to not have had the opportunity to intervene. That kind of focus, as a cool hospice doc tried to tell me, can really be just a distraction from being present with your loved one. (Although I still believe in monitoring what's being done fairly closely!) That must have meant a lot to him and to you that you were able to spend the last month with him. That's what's important. Did you read my mind about not shutting people out??? It's been really hard not to do that because of being able to tell that my friends couldn't relate, other friends being overwhelmed by the demands of residency and their own lives, and disagreeing with certain of my family over end of life issues. I just focused on a couple of friends to the exclusion of everyone else, which I know now was not a good idea. It was hard to figure out a way to stay sane through it all. So, I've decided to go back this Wednesday-purposely in the middle of the week so I'd have a day off after the first few days. I hope my father lasts a long long time-I'd so wanted to have a child second year and have my parents be there to be a part of his or her life. But anyway, I'm going to try and treasure the time I do have with him. Thanks again Pimmar.
     

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