Remembering a physician, suddenly taken away

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Our 20-bed ICU finally captured 10 intensivists — all board-certified in critical care medicine. We were fortunate enough to have one of these doctors in our ICU 24-7.

Of course, they all practiced professionally with expertise.

But I remembered this one the most: Dr. Jason McKenzie (name changed for privacy).

He easily became our friend and “go-to” person.

Clocking in at night and finding out that Dr. J was our doc, would give me great joy.

He was fun-loving and our safety net.

One minute, I’d rap a part of an Eminem tune to him, and he’d automatically complete it. Or I’d switch to a Led Zeppelin tune, and he’d stay right on track.

If we needed a central line, he would be there to insert one. During Code Blues, he’d rattle off what meds were required next.

He wasn’t just a clock-in doctor. He was here for the patients and their family, but he was also here for us nurses too.

He respected and acknowledged us, and we knew we could go to him for anything.

We’d laugh with him, hear one of his stories or jokes, and within an instant, switch gears and run a code.

One of the most important values for a nurse is to know that doctors listen to them and respect them. Dr. J was the whole package.

He talked about his wife and their two adorable children. He had love in his eyes when he spoke of them. We knew they were one lucky family!

After several years, he moved to a different city in a different state and flourished. He became the director of ICU at a large teaching hospital.

He mentored and taught many residents and interns and nurses alike. They all loved him too.

And then we got the news — news that couldn’t be true.

He was a “no-show” at the hospital for morning rounds. This wasn’t his norm.

Some of his buddies went to his house, knocked on his door … no answer.

They called the police to let them in.

And there he was.

Face down.

No pulse. No respirations.

Cold.

At the age of 47, our dear Dr. J was dead.

We found out later that he was scheduled for a stress test two months after he died.

LAD: 100 percent occluded. The widow-maker.

ICU nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists crowded the funeral parlor.

His two small children touched his casket. His wife with her head bowed, dressed in black. It was too early, too soon to be dressed in black.

Disbelief and not a dry eye.

I cried uncontrollably. I just lost my friend. My buddy. My fellow rapper.

We all lost him.

But I’ll never forget his kindness. His wit.

His expertise.

Goodbye, Dr. J.

You were one of us.

You live forever in our hearts.

You were the best.

Debbie Moore-Black is a nurse who blogs at Do Not Resuscitate.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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