I didn’t want to ask for help because it would be a confession of weakness. But my patient was dying, really dying, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, and I didn’t know why, and I didn’t seem able to do anything to stop him. I figured it would be even worse if he died because I didn’t ask for help. So I did. I don’t know what’s worse, that I was weak enough to ask, or that the person I asked didn’t really know any more than I did, and didn’t do any more than what I was about to do anyway. The patient survived, mostly thanks to the nurses, and due to what they and I did before the help arrived. I guess it’s good, in a way. I’ve proven to myself that I can get through anything (with the right nurses). I need to stop using the comfort blanket of asking senior residents for help. If I could just not get so worried by my patients dying, or trying to, that I can’t seem to think straight. . . and why do they always do it at 3am, when I can’t think straight anyway?
I’ve mentioned the ghosts before – memories of other times when things went wrong. They’re starting to add up now, so whenever I have a really sick patient, there’s usually an analogous memory, where things didn’t turn out well. I don’t know whether it’s good, to have those to make me paranoid and anxious to check into every possible explanation or treatment option, or whether knowing the answer to those old puzzles sets me thinking down one track, unable to see what might be different about this time.