I was moonlighting last weekend (or the weekend before, I have lost track), and one of the patients I was called to see was a young man (less than 30 years old) with metastatic germ cell carcinoma. He was dying.
He had a wife, who came in when the nurse called her to tell her that the patient was having trouble breathing. Everyone knew he was in his last days, and even though there was nothing new that day to make anyone think that today would be "that day," you never knew.
So, I evaluated him and ended up transferring him to the ICU per the primary physician's orders. It was, in my opinion, an inappropriate transfer but that's another story for another blog.
The patient has a 3 month old daughter. She will never know her dad. She'll see pictures of the two of them, later on when she's older. She'll wonder what he was like, and what it would be like to grow up with a dad.
It seems sad and unfair that this little girl won't get the chance to be a "daddy's girl." And it is. But, it's actually a miracle that the patient got to see her at all. Six months ago, he was told he had 2-3 months to live. He outlived the predictions and in the meantime saw his daughter born and got to spend 3 months building his memories and trying to build some memories for her.
I never checked back in on him. Mostly because I thought he'd be gone within 2-3 days and seeing that he had expired would just depress me. It made me, yet again, appreciate my friends and family, and it reinforced by resolution to write an email a day to express my gratitude and appreciation. You never know when you won't get that chance again.