You Are Not On Your Deathbed

By Luke Murray

You are not on your deathbedWe’ve all heard that our attitude is more important than our situation in life. But applying this realization can be difficult in medical school.

We may study all day and still do poorly on tests, not participate in our hobbies, forgo time spent with friends, and perhaps even be uncertain if medicine is “right” for us in the first place. All seemingly legitimate reasons to feel down.

But we are not on our deathbeds.

I’m on nights and have a patient who came in with acute shortness of breath. He had received a diagnosis of lung cancer (never a smoker) approximately two weeks ago. The shortness of breath is likely caused by obstruction from his lung cancer but is not operable. We consulted oncology, and they said radiation and chemo are not indicated. He is on BiPAP 24/7 and will desat into the 70’s if we take it off even to feed him.

He is 58. Same age as my dad.

Every day, I go in to see him. He asks, over the noise and through the mask of his BiPAP facemask, how I’m doing. And he stops to hear my answer.

We put him on hospice yesterday.

You might be really miserable in medical school.

And have “good” reasons to be miserable.

But you are not on your deathbed.

And you are in a position to someday care for people like my patient.


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