Friday, April 10, 2009

True Story

One of my most memorable patients was 8 or 9 when she was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme. For those of you who don't watch ER, it's a horribly aggressive, horribly fatal brain tumor. She went thru chemo, radiation, and surgery, and did so well, when she said hello to me in the basement of the hospital one day, I didn't even recognize her. It was a miracle.

A few weeks after I was shocked to see how well she was doing, I woke up in the morning, laughing about that incident, and thinking, well, I guess I won't be seeing her anymore.

I got to work that day and she had been admitted to our unit the night before. Later that day, we found out the tumor was back. I have no idea why she popped into my head that morning, she just...did. She started chemo again, but when I saw her just a few months later, she was so ravaged by the tumor, she didn't even realize I was standing there talking to her parents. When she finally noticed someone was talking to her parents, she didn't recognize me at all.

A few weeks after that, I woke up one morning because someone called my name. I lived alone at the time. It wasn't the same as someone talking to you in a dream, it sounded just like someone calling my name. I looked at the clock and it was 6:30. I was supposed to be at work at 7am that day. I had forgotten to set the alarm, and I never would've woken up if I hadn't heard that voice calling my name. I found out a few days later that my patient had died several weeks earlier. I always told myself that she woke me up that morning so I wouldn't be late for work.

I don't blog about work. I don't wanna get Dooce'd, and besides that, it's really hard to talk about work without being melodramatic, which is annoying and turns people off, I know. So, mostly, I complain about the stuff that annoys me to my friends and I keep it off the blog.

Today, though, I'm talking about work because after I signed up to run the Chicago marathon (...apparently I've been smoking crack? I don't remember picking up that habit, but it's the only reasonable explanation for such a decision), I decided to join the Children's Memorial marathon team. The economy sucks balls, and most of the people who read this blog have new babies and have no money to spare. I hate to even mention it. The thing is, it DOES make a difference. Tumors like medulloblastoma used to be almost universally fatal, but thanks to research, some subtypes of this tumor carry an excellent prognosis for long-term survival. Kids with spina bifida were only selectively treated as recently as twenty or thirty years ago, until this guy said, "Um, actually, I think these babies can grow up to be happy, healthy, and productive adults." And he kicked spina bifida square in the 'nads.

If you can spare it, think about .pledging me.

I promise, this is the last shill you'll ever see here. Tomorrow I'll be back to talking about my little squirt ad infinitum and occasionally talking about training for a marathon with a newborn who hates to sleep. Promise

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