Do you remember how on Sesame Street, each episode is "sponsored" by letters and numbers? Well, my surgery rotation has been brought to you by the letter F, as in "fantastic." It seems like everything that happens lately earns the same response:
Surgeon lets me use the scalpel and the electric cautery tool during a procedure? Fantastic!
Resident sends me to remove the staples from a patient's abdomen? Fantastic!
My patient with small bowel obstruction farted today? Fantastic! Wait--she pooped, too? Even better!
The gastric bypass patient has a leak in her esophagus? Fantastic.
The man who had colon surgery turns out to have rectal cancer? Fantastic.
My patient with cancer has bacteria in her blood and a hole in her intestine? Fantastic. She would not have survived an operation, so there was nothing for the surgery team to do but recommend antibiotics and wait. She died, twelve hours after going on hospice, three days after being admitted to the hospital, maybe six weeks after being diagnosed with cancer. She left behind a blended family with children ranging from middle school to the military.
Photo credit TT (6/13/2015).
As my community celebrates Relay For Life this weekend, we are spending a lot of time talking about cancer and remembering those whose lives have been impacted by this frustrating disease that continues to baffle modern medicine and to challenge us individually and together. I think of Susan, Julie, Keith, Linda, Essie, Tom, Jen, Rodney, Joanne, Glenna, Dale, Dan, Betty....
I've got another F-word: F*** you, cancer. F***, you.