Accompanying a patient on their final journey

Accompanying a patient on their final journey

There was the usual chatter at the family dinner table, but my mind was somewhere else.

The scene which kept replaying in my mind was what my patient said, as her son lifted the oxygen mask from her face.

She muttered weakly in Cantonese: "Thank you for all that you have done for me these few years."

As tears welled up in my eyes, I quickly looked away and left the room. I didn't want her family to see me cry.

After all, earlier that afternoon, I had asked her family members to try their best not to cry in front of her.

As the whole family gathered by her bedside, we all knew that the end was near.

She was admitted to hospital two days earlier for profuse bleeding, pain and weakness.

When I saw her, she looked as pale as if there was no more blood in her. We transfused bag after bag of blood and blood products to try to halt the bleeding.

I called the liver surgeon to see if he would consider emergency surgery to try to stop the bleeding.

He said that if he operated, there was a high likelihood that she would die on the operating table.

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