Monday, September 15, 2008


This is a month of "lasts". Last call in the ICU, last call in the ambulances, last call in the OR, the last presentation before the department. I've been in Be'er Sheva for 19 (!) years. So it is with mixed feelings that I'm leaving. Next month I'll be starting my new job in Tel Aviv.

On one hand, Soroka Medical Center has been like a second home (it is entirely possible that I've spent more time there than at home). I'm leaving all that is familiar, even the most annoying people have their own quirky charm. At the most practical level, I'll have to learn who the key players are, where do they put everything, how do I get from here to there and back? (Where's the mask and bag for heaven's sake??!)
On the other, I've become weary of the same old, same old. It's a new start, a chance to develop and grow and that is what makes the move exciting.

So as I look forward, I also reflect on the past. I look in the mirror and see a stranger. Who the hell is that distinguished looking gentleman? (I should probably smash that cursed mirror into a thousand shards.) Inside, I still feel as young as that med student from almost two decades ago. When did this imposter arrive on the scene? But there is some weariness in those eyes. Weary of the same old arguments, the politics, the gossip, the general obsession with crap. And if I hear another fellow worker say, "but it's not my job." I will be put away for homicide (by reason of insanity).

The last call in the ICU. It was a mess: Motor vehicle accidents, ruptured aorta's, blood everywhere galore. When one of the nurses asked if we were going to draw bloods for some tests, I asked her to do it because of the work load. Her answer, "it's not my job" (even though most of the nurses do draw bloods when the doctors are busy). For a moment, I entertained the notion of dragging her by her hair and throwing her off the roof.

The worst case, a 33 year old mother of 5 involved in a car accident. The children were arguing in the back, she turned to yell at them and the car drifted into a lamp post. The entire family injured, a 2 month old infant fataly. The infant wasn't strapped into her car seat. I've posted this before. Please use safety belts. I really don't need the extra work. Ironically, a friend from med school called to tell me that she knew the family, and on numerous occasions lectured them on their laxity regarding buckling up.

The last call in Mada. It was gruesome.
**Warning**Not for those with weak constitutions**
*To those who proceed beyond this point: I bear no responsibility for anyone who faints, vomits or feels like crap!*

Three bodies.

The first was the worst. An elderly woman (maybe) with dementia went missing on Thursday. She was found in a mechanics shop on Sunday when he opened for business. The guys from Zaka had already wrapped her in a body bag. Of course the head was at the closed end. To be able to fill out the death certificate I have to personally look at the body. I decided the cut open the bag from that end. Even before cutting the bag the stench was overwhelming. I exposed the face, she was not alone. She was covered with maggots. Why do I have to deal with this? This country doesn't have medical examiners who go out into the field, so the doctors in Mada have to. This is not why I became an anesthesiologist. This is a reason why pathologists exist, they like this stuff (I think).

The second was an 82 year old woman who collapsed while her daughter was giving her lunch. By the time we got there, there was nothing to be done. I informed the daughter, an only child, that her mother was dead. She burst into tears. As she cried she kept apologizing, that she is usually strong. As I filled out the death certificate, I noticed that the mother's ID number was short, meaning that she had been in Israel for a long time. The daughter told me that she was indeed a Sabra, native born, and that she had been an educator, a writer and a poet. She was from the generation of the Nephilim, that legendary generation that reestablished the Jewish State. She still was apologizing for crying. I told her that she has every right to cry and grieve for her mother. I said that she seemed to me the anchor of her family and that everyone relied on her. She replied that I had hit the nail on the head. Well, now it's time for you to rely on them, let your family support you for a change. She seemed relieved, as if a burden had been lifted from her shoulders.
The last body, a young man who commited suicide by hanging himself. Another lost soul, another young widow, another small child who will never know her father.

After three bodies, I had enough. I did the only thing that I could do, I joked. I told the ambulance driver to take me to the nearest Rabbi, no not the nearest, the heaviest hitter, the guy wielding the most clout with the Lord. The body count stops here.
No, we didn't actually go to a Rabbi. We went to eat felafel. But perhaps my surreptitious, inadvertant little prayer worked. The rest of the call was just nuts and bolts.

This Saturday is my last call in the OR. I'm hoping I climb the walls with boredom.

But I won't bet my life on it.


Baila said...

I also did a "Last of everything" post, the week before I made Aliyah a year ago. Thank G-d there were no bodies.

Change is scary and difficult. It is also exhilirating. You are right. You can't grow without it.

Wishing you the best of luck...

Risa Tzohar said...

Best wishes for a smooth and secure beginning. Hope 5769 is a good year for you and your family.
Please keep posting your thoughtful posts.

concernedjewgirl said...

We are creatures of habit. Weather we like it or not.
Good luck with your good byes.
Best wishes in your new location.

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