Saturday, February 20, 2010

Death In All Its Many Forms

I see dead people: lots of them. Primarily in my job as a doctor in a geriatric ward, I have issued dozens of death certificates. For the vast majority of these patients death came after "a good innings", and for a lot of these people death came as a blessed relief from pain, or other distressing symptoms. For most folk, death is something they rarely come across, and it remains very much a taboo subject for much of the UK population, even in the 21st Century. For me, and the doctors and nurses I work with, death is very much part of life. Some might see this response (or lack of it) to death as a form of desensitisation, and I certainly think my response to my father's death was influenced, and probably blunted, by my medical experience.

Today I'm on call for the Police. At 17.00, when I was thinking of going for a curry, I was asked to go and examine a 25 year old man who had put the barrel of a rifle in his mouth and pulled the trigger. He had left a suicide note. I can still see his face.

If that sort of death ever stops touching me I should probably "hang up my spurs".