‘”His heart filled virtually his whole chest,” recalls Dr. Diane Meier describing her very first patient, an 89-year-old suffering from end-stage congestive heart failure.
It was the first day of Meier’s internship at a hospital in Portland Oregon, and after being assigned 23 patients, she was suddenly told that one of her patients, who had been in the Intensive Care Unit for months, was “coding.” She raced to the ICU where the resident told her to put in a “central line.”
“I didn’t know how,” Meier admits. “I felt overwhelmed and inadequate. Then, the patient died …
“Everyone just walked out of the room,” she remembers. I stood there. I still sometimes flash back on that scene: the patient, naked, lying on the table, strips of paper everywhere, the room empty. This was my patient. I felt I was supposed to do something — but I didn’t know what.”‘