I am Doctor, I am Human

7:42 AM

Has anyone seen this picture? Yep, I might be the last few remaining souls on earth who just saw this picture. At first glance, it may seem just like any other person crouching at the side of the road doing something but the story behind the picture is what made it viral. It supposedly shows a picture of an Emergency Room (ER) doctor taking a time out, grieving the loss of a 19 year old patient.

This picture serves as a reminder to the public that doctors are humans. While we deal with death all all the time, sometimes we just can't take it and break down. One particular case comes to mind. It is a story of Sofia (not her real name). Sofia was less than a year old. She was sitting on her grandma's lap while in a car, driven by her uncle. Her parents were working out of town. They were supposed to have a great family time by having lunch together. No one in the family expected anything bad to happen. While crossing a junction, the car they were in was rammed by another car in the opposite direction. Sofia, was thrown a few meters out of the car onto the tarmac.

Passers by found her on the road unconscious and brought her to a nearby private hospital. The hospital did an excellent job by providing some basic management and stabilized her. Sofia was intubated and sent to the emergency department. Based on the initial CT brain, there was no definite way of saving Sofia. Her skull was fractured into so many different fragments. There was bleeding all over the brain parenchyma. But she survived the first hour on life support.

After a while, her condition deteriorated. The Red Zone team had to perform CPR. She was already quite pale then. Her body was fragile. I wasn't the doctor in charge at the Red Zone but I was there to help any way I can. Everyone tried to do the best they can to save her despite knowing that chances are slim that she will survive. When we finally had to call the resuscitation off, there was a sense of great loss.

I was then tasked to break the bad news to the relatives. At that time, the only person there was her uncle; the uncle that drove the car. He was slightly bruised with abrasion wounds all over his face and limbs. He was initially very composed when he asked me about his niece's condition.

Breaking the bad news was the hardest thing I had ever done. I still get teary eyed whenever I recall this moment. My knees were weak. I had no idea how to tell him that his niece is gone. What made it more difficult was he still had a glimmer of hope in his eyes. As I told him that Sofia is gone, he just stood there for a while. He didn't say a word. I could sense the guilt and sadness in him. After a while he just broke down in tears. As he came in to see Sofia for the last time, it was the saddest moment I have ever seen. He just sat down next to Sofia holding her body softly. He just sat there for a long time.

At this point, I just couldn't take it. I was crying. Tears were flowing freely. I couldn't really focus on my work the whole day. I just kept crying until the end of my shift. I didn't get to meet Sofia's parents as they were still on their way to the hospital as my shift ended. I believe it would have affected me even more if I were to have met them.

I recently went to a Psychosocial Response Post Disaster Workshop a few days back. In one of the sessions, the facilitator asked the participants about our experience with stress at work. Somehow, I brought up the story about Sofia. Even after almost THREE years, I still had to hold back my tears when discussing about this event.

I'm sure I'm not the only one with incidents like this. Each doctor may have their moments when they just break down. Don't worry when it happens. It proves that you are a doctor. You are a HUMAN.

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  1. *hugs*

    Thank you for staying strong and continuing with your hard work. Please know that your courage and efforts are greatly appreciated.

  2. *hugs*

    Thank you for staying strong and continuing with your hard work. Please know that your courage and efforts are greatly appreciated.

  3. I still remembered vividly a death of a 15-year-old boy on the night of aidil fitri in 1999 from severe head injury after being hit by a lorry on the way back from buying new clothes for his siblings with his older brother when I was a HO in a neurosurgery ward... after pronouncing death and informing his family, I was bawling my eyes out in a bathroom... regretting a life short lived....


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