One of the SADDEST days of my life

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  1. Hello dear PFers. Haven't posted in a while. Just wanted to share my day with you all.
    As some of you know, I'm a medical student. I'm basically finishing my rotations this year, and I'm on my last specialty rotation, namely internal medicine.
    Today I met an extraordinary man. Here's his story.

    He's a 40 year old African American man with no real past medical history. He presented to the ER today with urine leaking out of his penis. Sound normal, right? NO. This man is a quadriplegic. He has a catheter that goes into his bladder from his suprapubic area. So, the urine should be going into the catheter and not emptying out his penis. So that's why he was in the ER. But here's the saddest part.

    This gentelman used to be a taxi driver here in Chicago. Five years ago, he was about to get into his car when a bullet hits him in the spine, at the level of C5. Which means you're paralyzed from the neck down, with very minimal hand function. Five days later he wakes up in the hospital with his wife by his side. To this day, no one knows what happened. They think it was a stray bullet. They never found the person who did it.

    A couple years later, he had both his legs amputated up to his hip because of an infection to the bones called osteomyelitis. So, I walk into his room with my attending to speak to him about our plan to treat him. He's just a stump in the bed. His wrists are soooo hyperflexed that his hands look like stumps. BUT.....
    he has the biggest smile on his face. He's in good spirits and incredibly pleasant and personable. A warm, lovely human being. And I just stood there looking at him, thinking about how unfair life's been to him. How he was just walking to his cab one day and a bullet out of nowhere had to hit him in the neck. I thought about how he looks down every morning and sees no legs and useless arms but manages to go on with his day. I thought about his wonderful wife that still takes care of him. I thought about how empty and helpless I felt because there was nothing anyone could do for him. As these thoughts were going through my head, tears starting filling my eyes and my heart was in my throat. I had to walk out and I cried like a baby outside his door. I cried for the life he's lost. And I knew in that moment I'd NEVER forget him. His smile, his optimism, his incredible will to live; he will always serve as a glowing example of the goodness of us humans. And he also serves as an example of our cruelty and our ugliness that allows one man to hurt another for no reason.
    In this field, I've had a lot of ****ty days, wondering why the heck I chose to be a doctor. You question yourself often. But I have to say, I've met everything from the most aggravating people, to the most extraordinary and uplifting. And today, XXXXXX has made my pursuit worthwhile.
    Thank you for reading......
  2. It's so nice to find people who's spirits are strong and can remain unbroken through such hardships. I feel that it gives us strength to get through our own problems too. That was such a touching story BlueBunny!
  3. i have seen MANY stories like that as a volunteer for a local ER.

    it makes you stronger, and makes the desire to be an MD and make a difference in the lives of others so much more worthwhile. good luck with the rest of medical school (ill be starting shortly).

    and remember, dont let a lot of people see you cry, that was the first rule an attending told me, he said 'cry on the inside not the out side because if a firefighter/paramedic/emt/cop sees you crying you will never live it down, so cry in the bathroom, cry at home, but do your job.'
  4. Dear BlueBunny, what happened to that man was horrible and unfair, but he has the strength that most people wish they had. You will meet many special people in your line of work. You are also very special just for pursuing this career path. You can learn so much from these people, whether they are wonderful, or really nasty. Good luck in the future, you sound like you will be amazing in your line of work. Congrats!
  5. Thank you so much for posting this. I am going through a difficult time at my job right now and reading this makes it seem so insignificant. I admire someone like that with such a will.
  6. Okay, I'm blinking back tears. It sure makes you wonder where people get that will, you know? It also puts things into perspective for you/us. I think it's a great thing that you met this man today. While it's hard to deal with, we can all learn so much from people like that.
  7. I think it's truly amusing how someone who hasn't started medical school yet is telling a rising M4 student what to do. It's easy for an attending to be stronger. They've been through so much that they've learned either how to detach themselves, or they're mostly desensitized. So an attending telling you not to cry is like telling you not to dry heave when pus from an anal abscess squirts in your face. There are some reactions that are visceral and that can't, and shouldn't, be held back. Come talk to me when you've had more experience as a REAL medical provider. Volunteering in the ER is a joke compared to what you experience as a medical student.
    And most importantly, there's nothing wrong with people seeing you cry. It shows you're human. It shows that you're still affected by human tragedy. It shows a patient is more than a case that you need to treat and get on his way. But, I'm sure you'll learn that when you have more experience.

    Lastly, I encourage you to go the "Student Doctor Forum" and read the posts under Emergency Medicine. You will read tons of stories by both medical students, and ER attendings where showing emotion is something that is NOT looked down upon. After you read those stories, tell me what you think.
  8. aww, that was an incredible story... ive been in a similiar situatio, but with a toddler... but your story was so touching, I had to fight back tears.. i dunno... so touching, again that was an incredible story...

    good luck with your medical career! :heart:
  9. People like him are truly inspirational! I hate to let something small bring my spirits down...and he, who lost his chance at living life normally, can smile that big and be that optimistic?! Stories like this make me feel so ashamed sometimes!
  10. BlueBunny, I would be VERY proud to have you as my doctor. I wish you nothing but the best in your chosen career. You are going to be an AWESOME doctor.
  11. Amazing isn't it?! I still remember the first toe tag I tied to a patient. Makes the little BS not that bad KWIM?!
  12. What an amazing courageous man. Both my parents are in the medical profession and would often come home with inspiring stories of will and faith that just touched your heart... such as yours.

    Thanks for posting :heart:
  13. THANK YOU - for holding on to your compassion. It seems to be a scarce commodity in the medical profession more and more. I think you are going to make an incredible doctor.:woohoo:
  14. Stories like this are important to share. It is very easy to complain about little silly things and stories like this put things in perspective. I will share something also. During a brief stint in clinical practice (psychologist) I had the good luck to have a young woman who had a very agressive Hodgkins disease come to see me. She had a great outlook on life, was beautiful inside and out. She fought this disease like a champ, but it took her life 2 days ago. Her website is
    Very sad.
  15. Lori, you just made me tear up. You're such a sweetheart. You always have been. Thank you for the compliment. It means more to me than you can imagine.
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