Dust to Dust

by chelseajin

It seems like you can take on 1 of 2 attitudes when you’re working in a hospital– either good that you’re helping people, or a bit morose because you’re really being faced with an existential crisis everyday.

The first patient I was responsible for at this current hospital arrived as a very sick man. He was unlikely to do well purely because of a flagrant cancer that hadn’t been responding to treatment. Amazingly, he’s stuck around for almost 2 weeks, but at this point we’re discussing how to make his last moments peaceful. Having to go in every morning to check on this man always made me think of how we’re all ultimately going to die. Dust to Dust, right? No matter how high you “ascend” in life with your wealth, status, power, it doesn’t mean anything because when you get sick, you’ll be just as unkempt, smelly, undignified, and ill as anyone else. You start to go down the line of, “what’s the point?” And this must be what severely depressed people think about all the time.

(I can’t help but think of this funny story told at a contest… a man is describing how he and his friend always go to Pizza Hut, obviously for pizza. One day, he goes and asks for his usual, and the waitress says, “I’m sorry, but we’re out of pizza today”. The man just looks at her, completely side-lined, and takes a good look around the room, seeing a multitude of people similarly confused. And he starts to ask himself, “Why am I here? Why are any of us here … ” )

On the other hand, you’ve got people boasting about saving the day, or salvaging a lab value on a patient. Maybe they’re at peace with the idea that death is a great equalizer and you don’t take anything with you when you’re on your way out. Or is that a result of not thinking about it too much? It wouldn’t surprise me that there is a subconscious protective reflex built into us.

I think I’m just noticing this more because I’ve never had to spend any time in a hospital as a patient. Hospitals are kind of grisly. Yes, there is a lot of healing and miraculous recoveries, but ultimately it’s a place where for sick people. Another plus for Preventative medicine.