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Friday 9 August 2013

A day in the life

I wonder how the nurses cope when surrounded by so many of us dying around them. I know emotional detachment is part of the job but I see, every now and again, the determination it takes, especially for the younger ones, to not get involved and not acknowledge personal distress when a particular pet patient dies. 

Working on a cancer ward makes the odds of your patient dying pretty high. Whilst geriatric nursing is of a similar vein, it is the age of some of the patients here, especially the children that tears my heart to pieces. I met another "termo" last night. He is only 61 and has just passed his 9 month prognosis so rightly feels proud of himself. He has bowel cancer. So we discussed bowel movements a lot! Just how weird is the kinship of cancer to be discussing back bottoms within 5 minutes of meeting, with a dying man you've never met before.

Sadly thoughts of death are not confined to the ward today. I awoke to the tragic news of the death of a beautiful 16 year old, killed in a riding accident. A friend of G's. I cannot even begin to express my horror and deep sorrow for her family and her friends.

A friend of ours died at a similar age in a similar way and I know I have never forgotten her or reconciled myself with the void that should have been her life. We were not close or best friends. She was, however, dear to my dear friend S and had been part of the kaleidoscope of boarding school for 5 years of my life. I am unable to explain to G anything or offer her Any kind of comfort. Life inexorably rolls on, sweeping aside our expectations and dashing our firm held beliefs of what SHOULD happen - the bad die, the good live: the young recover from accidents: teenagers are immortal and that there is a pattern to life and death. 

Lucy will not be forgotten by her peers because she is the first and because of the random nature and the tragedy of the circumstances. It is not right and trite "good die young" phrases are not going to help. It is shite. However you always remember the first of your peers to die unnaturally early. A time in the girls life is coming when the advent of motor cars mixed with teenage hormones seems to inevitably result in maiming and death. As you get older you seem to get more accepting of the vagaries of the Colt 45 that is fate. At 16 and 17, somehow the chaos of random chance is terrifying. The dawning of why your parents are quite so neurotic about the hidden Russian roulette chance that lurks, swirled in fog, at every party and on every car ride?

Life is not fair and, as I said to J and J this morning on hearing the news, I sometimes rail about being taken "so young". Under these circumstances, I should not rail at all but be so grateful for HWISO and the girls and the opportunity to live a vibrant life. 

So I will weep for a child today.

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