Bed 6 is very sweet. It’s in the late afternoon in the emergency department and bed 6, a 70 something years young lady, has come in due to an abdominal pain and vomiting.
Looking through her computerized medical history I notice a recent abdominal CT scan and a visit to the oncologist.
“Space occupying lesion at the head of the pancreas” although can mean either benign (harmless) or malignant (harmful), when combined with a visit to the oncologist – pancreatic cancer.
The one-year relative survival rate of pancreatic cancer is 20%, and the five-year rate is 7%.
Which means this nice lady has roughly 1 to 14 chance to live past 5 years from now. I don’t know how much this lady knows, and I feel like it isn’t my place to ask.
It wasn’t the first time I encounter a pancreatic cancer patient, every time it hits me:“you are going to die soon”. What is soon? What if tomorrow I die in a car crash? What would you do if you had 10 years to live? 5 years? 1 year? 1 month?
I really don’t like the type of patient in bed number 9. He is 50, a smoker, diabetic, obese, hypertensive, had once an open heart surgery for coronary (the heart blood vessels) blockade, and worst, he is not even trying to change.
He came in with a chest pain, his daughter is crying, scared that he might having a heart attack. Well, he hadn’t.
I tell him “why are still smoking, not taking your meds properly and changing your lifestyle? Your daughter is crying, you are going to leave her fatherless”
“I can’t stop smoking, it’s a disease”
I knew right then, he is going to die before he reaches 70, and I won’t be surprise when he does.
And there are these genetic terminal diseases like duchenne disease. Those young men can be fully aware of their condition, which make it sometime even sadder.
There is nothing I can say or do to understand their world and feelings.
I always assumed I had minimum 80 years in this world; I would be a different person if I had 40 years or 30 years of life expectancy, and in duchenne case, not being able to walk by the age of 12 and life expectancy of 26 years. I won’t be able to study medicine.
I am starting to find the balance between leaving the moment with some regards for the future. It is not about living like every day it is your last, it is about living like every day might be your last, do you get the difference? If I die tomorrow or five years from now, I want which ever day it may be, to be able to look back and say “yeah, I had fun, I did something, I did what I wanted”