Death and living

I’ve finished two weeks on neurosurgery where we open up people’s brains and manipulate some vessels. Some people wake up from surgery; some don’t. What’s amazing is how common and well accepted these poor outcomes are. On the last 4 days of OR, several patients have had an intraoperative stroke or bleed. One patient is in her 40s and still can’t swallow. One is still tubed in ICU and had a debilitating stroke to her speech area, and will never understand or speak properly again.

One resident I was discussing this with provided the insight that perhaps these people undergoing these surgeries are so sick or so near death, that poor outcomes don’t even faze the surgeons. They still consider themselves life-savers. Perhaps that’s the case, but I don’t know how I could live with myself knowing I saved someone’s life but now put them in this half-existence. Never being able to enjoy any normal meal or drink again, let alone a burger or fries? Going through life not understanding what people are speaking to you, not being able to convey your own needs, laying in a hospital bed or long term care bed forever? It’s a touchy subject, but to me being fully dead is far better than being kept half alive.

So it goes for other aspects of life; it was better to send a cold, harsh text and get a cold, harsh reply than allow myself to be ghosted and live in this half-desperate state of wondering where we are, when I’d ever hear back. That semblance of a relationship can just die, and I’d be happier and better off than I was with it hanging over my head. With his ghost reminding me of how unfairly he was giving me the silent treatment I didn’t deserve. Everything works out for the best, though, and I’ve matched to a new city to a wonderful program where I’ll have a fresh start.

Psychiatry in one of the top programs in the country, certainly one of the more competitive ones, where I’ll be able to pursue neuropsych, where I’ll have a condo in the vibrant downtown, where I’ll be dealing with a crowd that’s a bit livelier than neurosurgery patients!


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