Thursday, August 16, 2007

Nothing to do with babies-ish

One of my fav bloggers'- Julie- dad died a few days ago. He was riding his Harley and came unstuck around a corner. For someone I don't know apart from her amazing writing on the interweb, I was incredibly upset. I just checked her blog and she has had something over 800 comments: the most I've ever seen on a blog. I'm sure it's because she writes with such honesty and humour about her adventures in the land of infertility that those of us who read her blog feel so attatched to her and her family. It's a site well worth reading: spend an evening reading her archives and it's like an amazing book that you want a good ending for.

Anyway, her dad's sudden death got me thinking - and I'm sorry, but this will probably be some random stream of consciousness burble- and of all the sudden deaths I have ever known, there are only a few that stick in my mind and manage to invade my thoughts regularly. The first would have to be a toddler- whose name I still remember, and whose curly blonde hair I can still see- who was run over by his mum in their driveway. She was backing the car out and his dad was watching over him, but he turned away for a split second and the poor wee man ran into the path of the car. I was on for Paed trauma (this was when I was a surgical trainee) and had just done the EMST trauma course, so I was all fired up. I remember being so pleased that we had got this kid stabilised and CT scanned within 20 minutes of his arriving in ED- I'd done a cut-down, even- and we were giving him absolutely his best shot at survival. I remember buzzing with energy at having done so well at this trauma, and starting to push his bed up to OT so that the neurosurgeons could operate when the ED Nurse manager asked if his parents could see him. I told her it would have to be quick, because we didn't want to delay his theatre at all... and then the parents walking in, numb with grief and disbelief and timidly reaching out to touch their son... and that's when I lost it. (One of the theatre nurses once told me I was too soft to be a Paediatric surgeon. She was right). He made it through his operation but died about 6 hours later. I remember ringing up the GP to tell him to expect the worst for mum and dad and the GP being absolutely aghast. That trauma will stick with me forever.

The second is the death of my good friend A. He was killed by an avalanche whilst climbing Mt Tasman in New Zealand 3 and a half years ago. I had been in love with this guy for almost all med school and a good few years after that, but it was never reciprocated. Totally unrequited. When he died we were all so stunned; he was so fit and so alive he was the last person we expected to die. I never really got over never having told him all the things I should have told him, all the letters I never wrote, all the phone calls never made. I do not expect I will ever get over him- his death (and life) will pass into what makes me me. But it still haunts me, and just last night I had a dream about him. Not anything spectacular- we were christmas shopping at the same store- but it made me miss his sense of humour and unique outlook on life. There are still songs that remind me of him- especially Coldplay's "Clocks"- it was playing on the radio when I heard he had died- and "nothing else compares" seemed so apt a line for the relationship we (never) had.

There have been loads of other deaths I have been involved with: I'm around death and dying all the time at work, but these are the two that stick the most.


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