For a moment

Over recent times, as I reflect on my friendships both pre uni and since uni, I've found them to be disappointing. There are good moments, good memories, and some friends are great for the period of time that they are friends, but in most, the longevity factor is just not there. Friends are fickle with the times. There is not much to be expected from them.

That thought led me to think about how relationships may in fact be necessary at some stage of your life, where you may have more depth, and stability. But love is brief, and good and perfect times are brief. I guess there is nothing to be disappointed about because that is how the relationship between two imperfect people would be. But I am disappointed. And can't imagine how any relationship can end well (or should I say, continue well).

Sure, maybe tomorrow will be a new day and an end to the bitterness. But there's always tonight when the emotional disruption halts or retards any physical or mental tasks, when peace is disrupted, when you go to bed with question marks and a heaviness that doesn't help with sleep.

In times of need

Everyone enjoys a casual catch up, over meals or a cup of coffee. Everyone loves to ask about your relationship status, and gossip about such things. "We should catch up," they always say, and I can never quite tell whether it's out of habit or sincerity. There are illusions of friendships.

Then when needs come up you realise, actually, it makes no difference whether you have "friends" or not.  That's reality - every man is an island. There you go, friendships are hollow and I am cynical.

Stopping treatment

"If I have to go, then I have to go."

He looked well yesterday. In ICU, but he was sitting up, alert and able to communicate and articulate clearly. Today he seemed drowsy, struggled to talk, and well... had an aura of death around him. I was surprised and saddened at how rapidly he deteriorated.

The decision was made yesterday. He has had long standing diabetes, with amputations, and chronic kidney failure for which he's on dialysis. Recently, he had a pleural effusion, which was investigated and was diagnosed as mesothelioma. The consultant discussed with him the poor prognosis of mesothelioma, and the option of stopping haemodialysis. The registrar started crossing out everything in the long list of medications he's on except the painkillers. Indeed, there is no point managing blood pressure and diabetes when death is in sight.

"He has suffered enough," the doctor said to us. To the patient he said, "we will do everything in our capacity to keep your comfortable during this process."

"How long do I have?" he asked.

A week, two weeks? Will you die during my two week rotation on this unit? I know the decision is sensible. According to patient information sources, death from renal failure is relatively peaceful and painless. At least you have sufficient warning to settle your affairs. Nevertheless, death and suffering are so ugly it brings tears to my eyes. I wanted to say, I'm sorry, how do you feel? What's it like, preparing for death? What will happen to you when you die? Of course, we stood behind the doctors and asked none of those questions.

We walk out of the room. Everyone seems to have left the heaviness inside the room, and left unscathed. "It's sad isn't it?" I said to the other student, and I'm not sure if he hears because he starts talking about a different topic. Are doctors encouraged to be untouched by suffering? Who are you supposed to confide in?

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