In public on the job, doctors and nurses are trained to stay stoic. But behind the scenes, after comforting accident victims, the terminally ill, and others with a life-threatening health crisis, they can feel deep emotion for their patients.
And thanks to a now-viral Twitter thread, health professionals are letting it all out, sharing the most emotional, inspirational, and gut-wretching moments of their careers.
The thread started when Esther Choo, MD, MPH, an associate professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Oregon Health & Science University, tweeted a story about a patient’s miraculous recovery.
“When I first met B, he’d been dead for 20 min.,” she wrote. “We got him back, inexplicably. He calls me every year on the anniversary. 10 years now. #ShareAStoryInOneTweet.”
Since Choo’s initial tweet on Friday, other doctors and hospital staffers have posted their own stories—here are the most incredible.
“Was called from 3 courts over during tennis match,” shared Rick MacDonald, who identified himself as a pediatrician. “He was gone. There was no [automated external defibrillator] and did CPR for 20 min until EMS arrived. 1 [month] later he delivered a beautiful mantle clock to thank me for his ‘extra time. 12 [years] later, it and he are still ticking.”
“I was a new [22-year-old] nurse, absorbed in heartache from a breakup like only someone of that age can be,” shared @TiaX_line. “You were newly trached & had been in ICU for 2 [weeks]. You touched my face & asked *me* what was wrong. I learned to be less selfish that day.”
“[Gynecologic oncologist] attending screamed at me for missing meeting,” @GLagalbo wrote. “Didn’t tell him that you, dying of cervical cancer, had laid your head in my lap while rounding, I stroked your head as you told me about the sons you were leaving behind. You taught me compassion.”
“Young man with bad depression attempts suicide with a gun,” said Monica Verduzco-Gutierrez, MD, an assistant professor at the McGovern Medical School at Houston. “Parents find him. He goes to ER & surgery. Mom cleans brain from walls. He lives & I see him as a #Physiatry consultant. Tell family he is in there. 7 years later, I’m a guest at his wedding.”
“[2-year-old] female found unresponsive in a pool,” wrote @emilyinem, who identified herself as an emergency medicine physician assistant. “No heartbeat, no respirations. Firemen and then ED physician refused to quit. I woke up & now I have a job I love. Every second is borrowed time. Emergency medicine saved me (still does).”
“You were married for 62 years, she held your hand as you kept hanging on in the ICU,” shared Kay Judge, who described herself as an internal/integrative medicine physician. “She finally whispered ‘It’s OK to let go, I’ll be fine, I’ll meet you on the other side’. You stopped breathing as she finished her sentence.”
“I was a medical student. He was already gone,” said @DMama2008, who identified herself as a pediatric emergency physician. “We took the kidneys, the heart, the liver. I repaired his final wound with thick black thread. The liver went into the back of our car. We drove in snow to the recipient. I never forgot him. Or his gift.”
“Delivered a 450g baby,” wrote Alastair McAlpine, who identified himself as a palliative pediatrician. “Told she was too small- had no chance. She kept stopping breathing so stayed up with her for 2 nights rubbing her chest for every breath. Consultant said I was wasting my time. She just performed her first ballet as a healthy [6-year-old].”
These are just a few of the many stories shared with the hashtag; it’s also a space for people to post other personal stories about related topics such as adoption to mental health.