December Dwindles Away

As December comes to an end, I realize that the whirlwind of intensive care units in the hospital over the last 50 days has taken me away from writing. The table in the surgical ICU is cluttered with Christmas desserts and decorations today. A small Christmas tree, potted in gold, rests in the center – a flicker of golden red cheer among desolate white. Few families come to visit on Christmas. Maybe they, too, want to celebrate – and escape, even if for a day, the reality of this place. Ventilators, monitors, lines, tubes. They will be back tomorrow.

This will be my last holiday in the intensive care unit. And somehow, today, I view this as a privilege. To care for all of these patients throughout the day – many of whom are alone. To be here for them. Today, this is not my job – it is my gift. A small sacrifice. A 30-hour Christmas gift. I did something today which I rarely have time to do while in the intensive care unit – I stopped by my patients’ rooms and spoke with each one of them and their families, answered all of their questions, wished them the best. In my mind, I began to say farewell to them, and to the intensive care unit, as my last moments here approach.

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