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I realize that my narrative medicine posts have been morose but the stories have been writing themselves. My career has been mostly joyous but these stories of suffering, my own and my patients’ need to be told.
By Tracey Delaplain, MD
Like swallowing shards of glass, that’s what it feels like.
I stared vacantly through the blood red crystals and replayed the last minutes in the operating room. All the protective doctor speak couldn’t isolate me now.
“A chance to cut is a chance to cure.” “The mets always win.” “All bleeding stops eventually.”
The bleeding didn’t stop until the last heart beat. The cancer wasn’t supposed to win this time but it did. The one chance to cure had eluded us. The mets won again and my patient died, her precious blood crystallizing on the operating room floor.
One tear, one dose of swallowed glass and I have to go back and take another chance.