Friday, June 12, 2009

Becky's Heart

One of my busiest and most stressful months as a medical resident was the one on cardiology service, where we had to admit and treat patients with heart disease. What made the rotation easier for us was Becky. Becky was a nurse practitioner who knew enough about cardiology that she used to do all the paper work and prescriptions necessary for patients, which normally would take a very long time.

Some residents didn't like her much, perhaps because she occasionally would show that she knew about heart disease a little more than they did, something that harmed their ego. Either way she always did her job pretty well.

Recently she started going home a little early. Other than the occasional complaints when the resident didn't find her around at 5 pm, nobody else complained because she continued to work hard, although not as hard as usual.

Last week Becky asked to take Friday off because she had "things to do". On Saturday she was found dead in her house. She had written a letter about how much depressed she had been, how much struggles she had in her life, then grabbed a gun and shot herself in the head. Apparently she had previously attempted to kill herself by swallowing many pills but she recovered from that incident. She gave life a second chance but life didn't smile back so Becky decided to go and this time she made sure she would go for good and indeed she did.

This was sad and scary. This very pleasant lady has been working with us and was extremely depressed to the point where she wanted to end her life and had a plan for it without anyone of us, doctors, knowing about it or even detecting any warning signs. We treated an enormous number of patients with depression. Every doctor had previously held numerous patients in the hopsital against their will just because they were considering ending their life. We study depression and we know what to do with a depressed person. But all that time we did not pay attention to that lady working with us who had died inside long before we heard about the bad news on a Saturday morning. Depression is a very real disease, and like Becky its victims often seek permanent solutions to temporary problems. I hope she's in a better place.

10 comments:

jaraad said...

Back then I never understood why anyone would ends his/her life. Now, I understand. It is a struggle no one aware of unless he experience some severe problems. People commit suicide when they lose hope. We lose hope when we lose faith.

San Antonio Cicily said...

Even with all the education and commercials on tv and add campaigns I think there is still a social stigma out there and people don't want to come forward and get the help they need. Most people suffer from some sort of clinical depression at one time or another in their lives and its very normal. I don't know if people are experiencing more depression now or if society has just gotten better a dealing and treating it!

Hareega said...

Jaraad, it's very depressing to know how depressed people think. As you said there's no room for hope, they just think of surviving everyday they're living.

San Antonio... I don't know the answer to your question, but I think there are more sad people now. Not all sad people need medications, sometimes there's a very good reason to be sad (bad marriage, work, poverty) and unlcess those conditions are resolved the person won't feel better, medications won't help a lot here

NasEr said...

i just watched House MD s05's finale last night,where one of the Drs take his own life,just like Becky's story,same exact story ,no one knew or saw it coming and it got me wondering *seriously* why and how someone how on Earth could they keep it from everyone around them,coworkers,friends,etc...especially when they're working in the same field !
I think you go ahead and take your own life when your attempts to communicate about whats bothering you most with the world all fail and you feel alone,therefore no regrets.

kinzi said...

I am so sorry for your loss, Hareega.I wish she had been able to turn to you all for help.

Devilstine™ said...

been there! emotional hell i may say! no one should experience such, and hareega ur right about how medication wont help! IT FUKIN WONT! u have to resolve the problem by giving them wt they reallly need!

Tha2ir said...

well, when you're a health care field, you're always faced with so many frustrations to the degree that you think it's normal that everyone around you is a bit stressed out, that's why I realized I have to leave working in the hospital and look for a public health career.

Hareega said...

Naser, I heard about that episode , I should watch it, it could be the first episode of House that is based on some reality

kinzi thank you

devilstine, I cannot say that medications are useless, they might help in some cases but they are not a happy pill that makes everyone who takes it happy

Tha2ir, it can be very frustrating working in health care, but can be very psychologically rewarding for many others , it is good in my case though

San Antonio Cicily said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ali said...

This is so depressing really! I feel sorry for her and to the people who knew her. I just wonder how the people working around her didn't notice any thing. We have become workaholic machines worried about paying our bills and keeping our jobs. Sad