Code Blue

An emotional story about a family trying to sort out their personal problems in the wake of a parent's tragic death.

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2. John

Peering through the blinds of a patient room, I watched as the family of an eight year-old girl played cards around her hospital bed. She had been admitted four days prior after she passed out during recess at school and then had a four hour bloody nose. I scanned the name on the results of her blood work in my hand, making sure that it was in fact this bright and shining little girl that whose biopsy had come back positive for an advanced stage of adolescent leukemia. Leukemia is usually treatable. It isn't really the type of cancer to send off red flags and put people in the ground, but not everyone catches it early. It’s like when you hear those stories of those killer whales attacking and drowning a trainer at SeaWorld. They have an intimidating name, but if there’s a marine animal to be afraid of, it isn't a whale, it’s a great white shark. But the thing is, even with those benign killer whales, you still have the rogues. The mean ones. The ones that’ll grab you and pull you under the water for minutes at the time and don’t let go in time. Well today I have one of those exceptions. One of those killer whales that just could be devastating. And so I wonder why I got into this field. Pediatric oncology. If there was to be a contest for the most grim professions out there, this would probably come near, if not on the top. Just last week, I had a patient finally succumb to malignant melanoma after four years of fighting. Will this one— Miranda Barton be that next? The next kid that I spend years fighting for, investing time for, only to see them, and their families lose the battle of a lifetime. I once had to tell a mother of a little boy that there was nothing that we could do to stop his cancer from progressing. The boy, curious as they all are, tentatively asked her what that meant. Eyes brimming with tears, his mom pulled a curtain in between the two of them and told him to listen. Then she sang him a song. A bedtime song. At the end, she asked him, “you can hear me, right?” He was confused as to why his mother was singing him a goodnight song in the middle of the afternoon, even though he wasn't tired yet, but he replied, “Yes.” “But you can’t see me, can you?” “No.” “Well,” she paused to try to hold back a fit of sobs, “when you’re in heaven, this is what it’s going to be like. You won’t be able to see, or touch me, but I’ll always be there, thinking of you, dreaming of you, singing to you. We won’t be able to see each other, but we’ll still have each other. Does that sound good?” Her voice wavered off as tears overcame her. Cupping her hands to her mouth, she stifled moans. As her little boy tried to pull the curtain away from between them, she gripped it with her free hand, keeping it in place, dividing herself, so she wouldn't be seen as weak and fearful, but as strong and brave, the strong rock in the middle of a stormy sea, an example for her son to follow as he slowly walked towards the light. Working as a doctor, mortality was a theory which I knew all too well. I came to the point where I no longer wondered and feared for my own death for my own sake, as I’d seen much worse pain than I’d ever ave to go through, and seen much younger people die having lived much less than I have. But I still worried for my family. I always made sure that all the butter knives were the first in the dishwasher after dinner, and that I would be extra slow when I would walk up the stairs for bed each night. Keira. Logan. I did all of that for them, because I knew mortality, so I wasn’t scared for myself, but for my family, my life.
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