Crying in the Bathroom

Sometimes medicine sucks. And sometimes it’s on your birthday. I was having a wonderful day, complete with fake mimosas and flowers and homemade breakfast sandwiches from my hubby. I got a free coffee from my favorite place on my way to the hospital. My phone was blowing up with well wishes and happy messages.

Then I had to see our 65 year old patient.

He came in last week with stroke like symptoms, but brain scans showed a mass. It appeared to be a Glioblastoma multiforme, aka the most deadly and swift of brain cancers. He and his family were in denial, and who could blame them? He was young and healthy and hadn’t had any symptoms prior to this. Over the weekend, he had a biopsy taken of the mass which proved our worst fears… And yesterday, he realized what his condition meant. He was sobbing as we explained the options to him, and he kept repeating “take care of my sons”. I was blinking at the ceiling trying not to cry, but when I looked at my doctor, my strong, independent, intimidating, straightforward, no-bulls**t doctor, she was crying. I immediately excused myself to go to the restroom… And proceeded to cry alone in the bathroom.

I wish as physicians people allowed us to feel. Everyone wants their physician to be perfect- able to diagnose, answer any question you might have, be the strong one in the situation while somehow remaining empathetic and sensitive, but not TOO sensitive… It’s extremely difficult to live up to the high expectations society, and honestly we ourselves, hold us to. Luckily I have some amazing family and friends that are able to lift my spirits when times get tough. I also think it’s really, really cool to be held to such a high standard and to meet or even exceed it. It’s such an amazing field to be in and it’s such a privilege to be part of peoples’ most intimate and vulnerable life moment. I honestly can’t believe I’ll be a physician in 2 short months!

*note: patient age and other identifying information has been edited to protect patient identity!

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