This morning a middle-aged woman came into the emergency room in cardiac arrest. ACLS was performed to keep her alive. Other patients were in the ED before she even arrived, certainly with what they felt were emergencies, but treatments for these individuals were placed on hold as this event took precedence. After 75 minutes of continual heroic measures and life-saving interventions, with her grief-stricken husband crying, holding her hand for the last time, and stroking her face, she died.
This was no movie, no reality TV show. This was as real as it gets. Real life and real death. Family huddled around the bed to say their goodbyes and wished they or we could have done more.
I walked to my office, emotionally drained and exhausted, and from across the emergency department another patient, upset that she had to wait, spoke out brashly in tones that carried to every room in the department. “I know someone’s dying and all, but I am in real pain here.”