The Cardiologist was called STAT to the ED for a 50 year old man with an acute STEMI. The man arrested 8 times in the ED, each time successfully resuscitated. He finally stabilized to where he could be moved to the cardiac cath lab. The cardiologist quickly met with the wife and told her the plans and that they would do everything possible to save her husband’s life. As he turned to leave, he was struck by the look in her eyes. It was the look of not just fear but worse, despair and the hopelessness that goes with it - she would not see her husband alive again is what he read in her eyes.
The cath went well with stenting of the culprit lesion. 2 hours later this same man, who repeatedly evaded death only 3 hours before, was awake, sitting up and eating in the ICU, completely alert and oriented with no neurological deficits!
When he saw her in the waiting room, her posture, her facial expressions, her overall demeanor, and, again, that look in her eyes – said, “He’s dead. My husband is dead!” She braced herself to hear the words that would forever change her life. Instead he gave her the news she least expected - he was going to make a complete recovery!
Then that singular, unexpected event happened. She ran toward him with arms wide open and threw her arms around his neck, sobbing with joy, and wouldn’t let go! She continued to hold on to him as she wept and wept. It was a beautiful moment frozen in time. As she continued to hug him, the cardiologist remembered thinking this is why he went into medicine and that he is making a difference! He walked away with a sense of contentment he had not felt in…how long?
“The hug”, a common human gesture, can be life-restoring, soul healing when we find ourselves in “a valley of dry bones”, needing fresh air breathed into us. These moments don’t come often enough but when they do, they forever remain, never to be forgotten. When was the last time you experienced a moment like this? When it does happen, do you appreciate it for the gift it is, a moment of joy, however brief?
There is still joy to be found in medicine. Look for it, embrace it, savor it because like “the hug”, it will give you a glimpse into what could be again – joy in medicine. You deserve that, you need to have that again!
Thanks for being there!
Andy Lamb, MD