Few things in this world are as pleasant as a Friday evening after a long week of work (assuming one has the weekend off, of course). As I drove home from the hospital today, I could feel my teeth unclenching and the knots of muscle in my neck slowly untying. The evening was spent with good friends whom I haven't seen in months and came complete with steak, wine, and an adorable infant who has somehow gone from cuddly baby to unstoppable toddler since I last saw her. An absolutely perfect combination.
In the background though, was an undercurrent of grief. In the list of today's admissions was the name of a patient whom I diagnosed with cancer a few short months ago. Young, with big plans for life when I first met him, and now being admitted to my ward to die. I suppose it's some twisted circle of life thing - I diagnose him, and now I get to palliate him. But this is one of the few that has gotten through my newly grown armour, one that still hurts, and I wish that I could pass the job on to someone else. I wish too that I had the power to give him one last perfect evening like the one I had tonight. To somehow magically unhook the tubing, return his swollen body to the size it was before steroids, flush the jaundice from his yellow skin, and give him one utterly normal evening with his new wife who is about to become a widow. As always though, the only thing I have to offer is relief from physical pain, and even that is sometimes incomplete.