Monday, November 17, 2008

Luminescence of Darkness

Around us fear, descending
Darkness of fear above
And in my heart how deep unending
Ache of love!

I’ve been having these intense migraines recently. And no, they’re not just in my head. They’re real and they’re no less than excruciating. At times I could feel my head throbbing in sync with my heartbeat, it’s as if something in my skull is about to burst, and it’ll leave me unconscious, in coma, or in my deathbed.


My intensivist, who diagnosed me as having these tension-type headaches, gave me prn (as necessary) medications every time I’m in such pain, to which I am fully compliant. However, as tolerance sets in, the same dose which used to be effective no longer affords relief when I take it now. And as I take more of them pills, the nasty side effects tend to predominate. Making me sedated, nauseated, vertiginous, and short of breath inasmuch than being painless.

I was advised on having a cranial CT scan once they recur, and I have long been planning on undergoing one but…




It has been exactly one year since I started my professional career in healthcare. Everyday, patients come into our beds, and they go, and for us, every other patient that comes in is nothing more than another opportunity for learning. Every body is a living piece of learning apparatus. Every heart beat a chance of learning about cardiac murmurs. Every lung an opportunity of learning roentgenographic interpretations. Every patient history a chance of discovering a part of themselves. And every patient interview a chance of gaining their most elusive trust.


Looking back on the thousand of patient histories I have in my recently emptied locker, I couldn’t help but wonder what made me different from the rest of these patients seemingly lying on their own deathbeds.

I experience the same chest pain. I do experience the same fatigue. I have had the same shortness of breath. And now I have the same headaches.


A month ago, I admitted one of our institution’s most b
rilliant Hematologist-Oncologist whose chief complaint was a mere headache. She had had a tumor excised a year ago but it recurred again, this time, more aggressive and malignant. She no longer has that same spunk back when we used to join her in the rounds. She’s lying there, almost in the brink of death, fighting against the disease she strived so hard to conquer. At times I’m left with nothing to say but maybe, now, the joke was on her.

Her headache, a malignant anaplastic astrocytoma. The other guy’s chest pain, a triple vessel Coronary Artery Disease. That lady’s bloatedness, a leaking Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm. That man’s difficulty of swallowing, anaplastic thyroid carcinoma.


And my headaches? It’s better that I know no further.


They say that knowledge is power. That the more you know about life, the more equipped you’ll become in conquering life’s challenges day in and day out.


Or is it really better that we know everything?


I know that I have to eventually discover what the hell is wrong with my head but for now, let me find solace in the uncertainty. Spare me the diagnosis and let me cope with the fear in my own terms.



There are so many things we have to know. We have to know we have what it takes. We have to know how to take care of our patients... and how to take care of each other. Eventually, we even have to figure out how to take care of ourselves.


As surgeons we have to be in the know. But as human beings, sometimes it's better to stay in the dark, because in the dark there may be fear, but there's also hope.

15 comments:

Mr. Scheez said...

Oh dahlen, we have the same problem. I have this recurring headaches/migraines lately. And honestly, like you, I don't wanna know what causes it. At least for now.

You take care love =)

meow said...

pls consult a neurologist or pain specialist,baka makatulong...

hema-onco in ust ba ito?

dabo said...

ganun ba.

God bless nurse Ruff. Maayos din ang lahat..

Mugen said...

Sana maging okay lang ang lahat. Take care!

Salamat nga pala sa iyong get well comment sa blog ko.

ruff nurse-du-jour said...

@mr. scheez: i'm planning to have my head scanned. just not now. probably when another attack sets in.
~for now, i'm happy with sumatriptan. :-)

@meow: yeah, i'm actually going to. it just feels odd to see my potential attending's lurking in the hospital halls where i actually do work.
~and to answer your question, yes. :-(

@dave: this, too, shall pass.

@mugen: i do hope too. and get well soon.

meow said...

with the SE you enumerated, naka opioid kaw?

naku, i know her, gvp. God bless her. i had my share of embarassment. i wish her well.

pagaling ka! God bless you!

jericho said...

nursie ruff, hope it turns out not that serious. to know or not to know ... always a hard choice. :)

Bryan Anthony the First said...

ingat ka sa dark, malamok,
joke
just cheerin' you up
hope things get well
woof!

Bryan Anthony the First said...

ingat ka sa dark, malamok,
joke
just cheerin' you up
hope things get well
woof!

icka said...

i haven't visited you for a long time.take it easy. don't work too much. take care of yourself, ayt?

ruff nurse-du-jour said...

@meow: yup i was. i was never more prurient than ever. thanks for the well-wishes. btw, is this your blog? will add you on my list awkei?
~god bless her, gvp, on my last duty she's on a dnr status already, bp's going down as well. :-(

@jericho: the headaches haven't recurred in a while, the next time they happen, i'll definitely have my head scanned, i promise.

@bryan anthony I: aside from that, i'm now veering away from caffeine, cholesterol, salt, and soda -- the sweetest things in life. i hate migraine!

@icka: not in this job icka. :-) but i will, thank you very much. will update your link too.

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