I just got back from a meeting at my hospital, Brigham and Women's, talking with one my mentors about my plan for the next couple of months. But walking in the building, our hearts were heavy, a somber air filling the halls. Our conversation kept finding it's way back to one thing. Yesterday, a gentleman who had lost his mother back in November, asked to speak with a doctor. And when that doctor came in to talk with the man, he shot him twice, and then took his own life. That doctor, just 44 years old, lost his life yesterday.
I am not one to comment on current events or to frequently share anything that isn't positive or uplifting. But my heart is hurting so much right now. Yesterday we drove past the hospital as the situation was unfolding, unaware of what exactly was happening but aware that something was indeed happening - helicopters hovering above us and police cars surrounding the hospital only screamed it was something bad. I called daycare to make sure Liv was ok, we live and bring Liv to daycare only a few minutes walk from the hospital, and they were all fine, everyone was fine. But it's not fine.
In our meeting today my mentor, an incredibly accomplished physician in his seventies, kept saying "Why couldn't it have been me?" Apparently that was the talk amongst all of the older physicians there. They all understood something that perhaps those outside of medicine may not as easily realize; that at 44, you're finally starting your career. You've finally finished medical school and residency and fellowship and have practiced for a couple of years and are finally able to build up the actual job you want. At 44, you're just beginning.
I think what's hurting me most is learning about Dr. Davidson's family. He met his wife during training, similar to N and I. They were both surgeons. He had three young children and his wife is seven months pregnant with their fourth. He ran marathons, played in a band, and taught at Harvard, and saved lives during the day to later come home and play with his kids at night. My heart hurts so much for his wife and their children. I hope that they can make it through this tragedy and not lose their hope for humanity. I hope she can continue practicing as a surgeon if she so choose, and not look at her patients any differently. I hope her children will all have memories of their father as the hero that he was.
I'm still not sure why I'm writing this post. Maybe I also want to ensure those things for myself. I can't forget that despite this horrific tragedy, despite the fact that a doctor was murdered by a relative of a patient, despite the fact that a family was just torn apart, medicine is still a beautiful thing. To have the privilege to take care of individuals at their weakest and most vulnerable, to have them confide in us things that no one else may know, to take care of them, is all a privilege. And death happens. If there's one thing guaranteed in this life, it's death, for all of us and our patients. As physicians we can only attempt to delay that or make the life they do have a little more comfortable. That is our role, that is our privilege. And even when a sad and hurt individual turns on one of us, we won't start putting up walls, and watching our backs around our patients. We can't.