Thursday, 25 November 2010

Diagnosing Death

It's strange to think of death as a diagnosis... but apparently it is. It's a diagnosis that I'm sure most people wouldn't like to be given, but each of us will be given one day.

Today I certified my first patient. It was a bit of a strange experience. For a start the patient had been dead 3 days. Although a fair few patients die on my geriatrics firm, they all seem to die out of hours so I've never been around when someone passed away. This meant as I went with the doctor to check whether or not a patient we needed to fill out a cremation form for had a pacemaker or not, the doctor let me run through diagnosing death.

To be quite honest I felt like a bit of a prat. I knew he was dead, the doctor knew he was dead, the mortician knew he was dead. He'd been in a fridge for 2 days! You'll be relieved to know there was neither a pulse or a heart beat.

Afterwards I got into a conversation about dead people. It's strange how as doctors (or even medical students) we get used to dead people. It's also strange that no matter how used you are to dead people, there's always the odd situation where handling it is that much different. Sometimes it's if you knew a patient well, other times it's when surrounded by the patient's family and sometimes you just can't put your finger on it.

Surprisingly the mortician wasn't as much of a weirdo as I'd imagined him to be. Someone who locks himself in a room with dead people all day lends themselves to getting a reputation. I'd almost imagined him to be some kind of social outcast who couldn't string a sentence together. He was a very nice man. If it wasn't for all the dead people in the fridges I'd be happy to go back and visit.

Lily xXx


Chris said...

I know exactly what you mean, I've pretty much got used to dead people, and that's only after a year and a half! Some things that would have nauseated me at the start, I don't even blink an eye at now, it's pretty strange.

Ms Leftie said...

It could be my fascination with Silent Witness for the past 13 years but I once really wanted to work in a mortuary, I still think I would like to at times – unlike customer services jobs I have had at least there is no chance of being told to ‘Sod off’ by the customer in question!

Lily said...

It would be more than a little scary if one of the bodies told you to sod off! I'd just constantly be paranoid that the people in the fridges would come back to life (maybe as zombies...)