Monday, December 06, 2010

Getting a hug

Our new Chief of Surgery, Elliot Chaikof, is featured in this short interview. He has lots of interesting things to say, but my favorite answer starts at 1:17, in response to the question, "What's your favorite part of the job?"

If you cannot see the video, click here.

1 comment:

Bart Windrum said...

From my book's opening section, describing driving to my dying father's bedside:

I made the midnight drive back on empty boulevards, speeding a little but not as much as I would have liked. I didn't want to risk being pulled over and further delayed. The hospital parking lot, full to capacity during the daytime, was barren now as I slipped his van into the spot closest to the entrance.

Grimly, I hiked up several flights of stairs and strode through the labyrinthine hallways I'd come to learn as if they were my new neighborhood. In the soundless hospice wing, the solitary nurse approached and told me my father had died twenty minutes earlier.

She expected me to want her hug—or to want to hug her. Maybe she needed that hug, or to give it, and I regretted that I didn't have it in me. I didn't share that thought with her, although I wondered in that moment if she thought me deficient as she stiffened from my unavailability. In retrospect, I surmise that at her lonely post, a midnight guardian of those who die, she needed a respite from unavailability and stiffness, hallmarks of the remains of the newly departed.

I was not present at my mom's passing fifteen months prior, and by the time I'd flown in, her remains were ashes. I'd never seen or encountered human death. I'd never experienced the evidence death leaves behind. I'd only experienced the absences of living far away from family visited once or twice a year and old friends seen once or twice a decade.

Had circumstances been different, my wife and I would have been present when Dad died, to be with him as his spirit took its leave. Instead, nineteen days after taking himself into the hospital, twenty minutes after his passing, I entered my father's room alone.

Hugs. Is there some non-artificial way to teach them?