It still sounds in my head that quote of Dr Diaz Rubio during my Grad Ceremony: “Doctors sometimes heal, but when we cannot, we must take care and support our patients. This is as important as healing could be”.
Last night life taught me something new. Life…an my box 18 ICU patient, Madame R.
After a few days in the ICU with norepinephrine fighting with no success, cardiologists and intensivist agreed on the withdrawal of the therapeutic effort and so we informed our patient. “She has the right to be informed and arrange her stuff”. She told us about her family, her “plans”, asked for a priest, for a public notary…and she told us about Chloé.
Chloé is her dog. “It is my EVERYTHING”, she said. “If I am going to die I wanna do it at home, I want to arrange my things and I want to be with my family and with Chloé”.
Skeptic about the possibilities we had to go that far after disconnecting the amines we decided to talk to her daughter who, maybe, could bring Chloé to the Unit. I had only seen this before in the newspapers. They talked about a dog sleeping with a child with autism hospitalised who really benefited about its presence but… could we do such thing? Could we let a dog come in an Intensive Care Unit? Would our boss agree with such decission?
However, after seen how things happened today I can just say it was maybe one of the best decisions in my life. It was not that easy in the morning during the rounds with the rest of the staff discussing if it was “right” or not, how to do it (would she go down the stairs out of the unit or it was better to let the dog come in?). Fortunately our boss had no doubt.
We have many expensive antibiotics, vasoactive drugs, fancy displays, catheters, morphine and other drugs…but I find I had never prescribed anything better tan the arrival of Chloe at box 18. I was very excited. We were all excited. My brain repeated all the time: “Chloé is my everything”.
When I asked Madame R to take a pic of the dog I was pretty surprised as she asked me to be in that picture with her dog and her daughter.
Although a tough situation I left hospital happy. Today I couldn`t heal, but I was able to take care of my patient, to support her in such a delicate moment. I cannot imagine how happy she could feel for having her dog by her side, but she really taught me about care. I learned that for all of our medications, there are some places in the heart that catheters just don’t reach. It’s up to us to find out when, and how, to make sure people get their next dose of joy; it just might be the best drug we ever give.
Dra. Laura Sanz
Intensive Care Doctor.