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Tag: death and dying

Family Summons

Amy Cowan

Startled out of sleep, I reflexively reach for my beeping pager. For a split second, I lie poised between wakefulness and terror in the pitch-dark resident call room, not sure where I am or what happened. I resolve to sleep with the lights on from now on.

I dial the call-back number.

“Pod A,” a caffeinated voice chirps. It’s Candice, one of the nurses.

“Hi. Amy here, returning a

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A Call In The Night

 
I married him in-between tours of Vietnam as a Navy junior officer, and even though we divorced after eight years, we stayed in touch and saw each other over the years.
When he emailed two years ago to say he’d been diagnosed with esophogeal cancer, I was concerned. But after radiation and an operation he wrote that his first two scans were good, and the doctors were hopeful. He was always a strong

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The Fighter

This was the third time he coded. Dean had been in the ICU for over a week without any visitors, telephone calls, flowers or balloons. He came in after an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest which he survived and subsequently had another arrest halfway through his stay here. He sure was a fighter.

With special help from the ICU team, we found a contact number for his mother after doing some research on the internet. I was

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Finding Answers

 
When he was 24 years old, my first husband had a stroke. A blood clot blocked a vital artery deep in his brain. One side of his body fell flaccid. Speech and language fled. To all of my urgent questions, the neurologists at Massachusetts General Hospital could only reply, “We don’t know.” They didn’t know why it happened. There was no way to dissolve the clot or reverse the damage. They simply tried to

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At Day’s End

Marc Tumerman

This is a story of two deaths. That these patients’ stories intersected on the same morning, in the same building, in two adjacent rooms, has left me thinking about them now that the day is almost done.

I was surprised to see Mrs. Stevens’ name on my schedule today. She came to the office last week, and I felt sure that she’d be too weak for another visit. But I was glad

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Battlefield

Pris Campbell

His heart
is a battlefield
of scar tissue
and hardened walls
from radiation.
So certain the tumor
in his throat would take him
to his knees, wrench his life away,
they brought forth
the beast…that fairy tale
of modern medicine
gone wrong…and now

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Deathbed Epiphany

Christina Johnson

As a family-practice resident, I’ve found that a premium is placed not only on my clinical acumen but also on how well I respond to my patients’ mental and emotional experience of illness.

Yet the work of learning to be a doctor is just that–work. And in overwhelming amounts. Time management becomes ever more vital: As I take the time needed to gently break bad news and to console a patient,

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When the Phone Rings at Night

“I’m at the hospital,” my mother said.”Talk to the neurosurgeon.”
The ringing phone had roused me out of a deep sleep. Already, my heart was racing, and I was wide awake as the doctor began to speak.
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Halloween Heartache

It was one hour past midnight, late enough that even the college students who lived in the apartment building across the street had changed their Halloween costumes for pajamas, turned off their lights and fallen into a sugar-induced sleep. I lay in bed, remembering the Halloweens of my youth when Dad and I had gone trick-or-treating together. He had protected me from the goblins, witches and ghosts that had roamed the streets of our neighborhood, and I

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His Favorite Time

 
I had known since the beginning that it would happen at night, his favorite time. He had always preferred the peace of darkness to the bustle of day. How many times had I woken up to find him still working at his desk? How many times had I left for work in the morning shortly after giving him a good-sleep kiss?
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The Baby Monitor

 
My parents slept together in the room next to mine for the last three years. They passed away this spring within three weeks of each other.
 
I invaded their privacy at night because I was so afraid I’d miss them gasping for breath or crying out in pain. I bought a baby monitor. 
 
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The Stroke of Midnight

 
As a member of a youth ministry team, I was sleeping on the floor of a church gym. My brothers knew I was in there, but they couldn’t find a way into the building. They went from door to door without a flashlight, using the building’s limited exterior lighting and finally locating a door that someone, by chance, had forgotten to pull tight and lock. Whether by stroke of luck or stroke of Providence,

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