Lessons Learned in the Adult ICU

I often use journaling as a way to cope. I typed this on my phone a few weeks ago and decided to share with you all. Happy reading.

While sitting in the adult ICU at Shands waiting to see my SISTUH for the last time, I met a lady. 

There in the lobby, she rested on two hospital chairs making a bed. I startled her while checking my phone and she immediately woke up. I had no desire to speak as thoughts were still racing in my head about my SISTUHs’ situation. “I’ve been sleeping on these chairs for two weeks,” she began. I turned to listen to her. She proceeded to tell me about her mother and how she came for a kidney removal surgery. Her mom was fine until 5 days post surgery when she became septic. What seemed like a quick and easy surgery resulted in her mother having a colostomy bag, breathing tube, and other complications. 

I had a lecture on sepsis the week prior. “Sepsis is the number 1 killer of hospitalized patients in the US.” You can read over a lecture, memorize the facts, Anki 1000 cards about the topic a day, but connecting this to patients can feel so distant . 

She proceeded to tell me today was a great day for her mom. She grabbed her phone from her pocket and showed me a video of her mom laughing. She wiped the tears from her cheeks and repeated, “today was a great day for my mom.”

It was not a good day for the family, friends, classmates, and peers of our beloved Denise. 

Sitting there with the lady brought forth many lessons I would have never expected to have gained in that setting. 

1.) Yes, board scores matter, excelling in the preclinical years matter, but to try as much as I can to connect the things I’m learning in class to the sad realities patients face. 

2.) Stop and listen to others. Though I was feeling extremely hurt, I felt a piece of happiness when the lady told me her mother had a good day. 

Exactly two weeks prior I was in the south tower for my first inpatient encounter. I would have never imagined that I would return for such tragic circumstances. I hope that all these experiences together can continue to push me forward to being the doctor I know Denise would’ve wanted me to be. 

As always,

Esther Duqueney


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