I hate walking past the ICU waiting room at 5am. Usually the people there look burdened by sadness, eyes wet and red, but at that time of the morning – or even worse, at midnight – you know they can only be there because a family member is close to death. The grief and tension are palpable in the air, radiating from their tense postures. I can’t bear to look at their faces. The surgery ICU is especially bad, because I wonder which one of us is failing to help them. It feels as though all the residents and attendings are one group, sharing coverage responsibilities, and it touches all of us when we end up with families sitting in the waiting room at 5am.
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