I met the little boy I want to tell you about when he was about to die- literally. His poor little body was suffering the effects of a very toxic therapy that would either kill him or save him. We were at his bedside all night. For me, that meant a long shift- 28 hours to be exact- on my feet. For his mom, that night probably just added onto the weeks without sleep.
“How are we ever going to get this kid out of this one?” I thought to myself. Almost at the same time the attending physician turned to his mother to say “We are going to get him out of this one” To which I then thought “Crap”
Many fluid boluses, antibiotics, vasopressors, and diuretics later, he stabilized.
The days passed, and slowly his body looked more like that of a little boy. Next came the wait- he needed to finish recovering to undergo the next round of invasive tests. Had all of this been worth it? I knew we all wondered, but nobody said it aloud. And then, just like that, he was moved. He was now too stable to be on my service.
His little life and my training went in separate directions….until Christmas Eve. I was working the overnight shift into Christmas Day and was definitely feeling the bitter sweetness that comes with being in the hospital over the holidays. I was on the phone in the elevator- when I saw his mom. She waved and whispered “Come by our room later, we have a surprise”
“Come on in, take a seat” There were toys everywhere. The little boy was playing with his younger sister and together they laughed and giggled. He looked nothing like the boy I had met and treated.
There was light and life in his eyes.
His mother looked at him and then at me- “We just wanted to share some news with you.” I sat still. “This week, we were told- for the first time since he was 2 years old…. he is cancer free”
I looked at her in disbelief. We embraced and tears flowed. And in that moment, in that embrace, my crazy doctor life and the universe around me made sense. Peace went through my soul and my purpose was renewed.