Frustration

Today I watched a man dying.

Paramedics are trained to do things, fix things. We’re very good at what we do, when there’s something to do. Trauma, bleeding, chest pain, cardiac arrest; we have tools, techniques and plans for these.

We don’t always win, but we fight the good fight.

When we lose, we have defense mechanisms. We did our best. He was too injured. If only they’d called sooner. Too much blood loss. Too much heart muscle damage. The trauma center couldn’t have done any more.

Occasionally we witness death gladly; elderly patients with Do Not Resuscitate orders who are prepared to go. It can be a wonderful thing.

But not today.

There’s one thing we don’t do well: degenerative disease. Cancer, dementia, multiple sclerosis. We have no treatments, no tools, no skills.

We don’t do NOTHING well.

My patient is dying. Maybe not today, maybe not next week; but Death is coming. We have nothing in our drug box to hold it at bay.

All I have is compassion, and today it’s not enough.

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