Gente que Cuenta

The last shift,
by Rubén Azócar

cirugia medieval Atril press
Johannes de Ketham<br/> Fasciocolo di Medicina,<br/>1493.<br/> Hand-coloured engraving

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      One of my rotations during my internship at the University Hospital of Caracas was in the emergency room. The last day arrived, a Friday, and both my colleague and life brother, Dr. Humberto Caldera, who is a prominent Oncologist in Florida, and I received gratifying evaluations and outstanding marks. Although we were supposed to have a day off on Saturday after the rotation, Humberto and I decided to go and help for a few hours, but no later than noon since Saturday mornings were one of the busiest times in the emergency room.

Around 11 a.m., information reached the emergency room that a platform had collapsed during a live television program, resulting in many injuries. So, we decided to stay a bit longer. That bit turned into several hours, where we treated cuts, fractures, and bruises. Late into the night, after many sutures, castings, and prescriptions, we were about to leave when we saw a teenager walking with difficulty towards the emergency entrance, holding his abdomen, clearly in pain, and as pale as a sheet of paper.

We approached him, and he told us that he had been seeking attention for hours, but all the hospitals were full, and they kept telling him he was fine. However, he didn’t feel well and had spent the afternoon from one hospital to another, walking and using public transportation. We lifted him onto a stretcher, placed him on a bed, and proceeded to perform a surgical evaluation that indicated abdominal bleeding. Consulting with the surgeons, while Humberto stayed to assist in the emergency, I went up to help in the operating room. A ruptured spleen was the cause. After removing it, controlling the bleeding, and several bags of blood later, I left “my little patient” in the recovery room with a new lease on life. We managed to snatch him from the hands of death. I don’t even know what time it was. I found Humberto finishing up in the emergency room, and we left, exhausted but both with immense joy and satisfaction.

I have experienced great moments of professional satisfaction, but this was perhaps one of the greatest. That day, I knew I had chosen the right profession, that I had a passion for helping others in times of illness, and that this was also my purpose.

It is important to examine and recognize ourselves to decide what our purpose and passion are and to work towards aligning them. Sometimes the path is not a straight line, but having a clear north is the beginning of the journey.

Ruben Azocar Atril press
Rubén J. Azócar es caraqueño, médico anestesiólogo e intensivista, fanático del béisbol y vive en Boston -desde donde escribe- desde hace más de un cuarto de siglo.

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