I remember as a first year resident working the 24-hour shifts in the Surgical Emergency Room. There was a 4th year resident who used to supervise all the CPR and resucitative efforts; capably directing all of us as we tried to save lives. When it became clear that a patient was not going to respond to the CPR and was dead, this resident would move quietly away from the action and open a nearby drawer that contained a baseball umpire’s hat; a protective mask and chest guard. He would don this outfit, then calmly wait until CPR was halted and the patient was pronounced dead; At that moment, in the best baseball tradition, he would yell, “He’s outta there!”, gesticulating just like an umpire making a close call. In an instant, the tension in the room would dissipate as we all broke into whoops of unrestrained laughter.
That kind of humor, which I know to be common among doctors, reminds me a lot of the gallows humor found among soldiers and pilots. I think it’s a healthy thing. (So does Dr. Sanity – be sure you read the whole thing.) It’s to be expected in any field where death has a presence.
But, clearly, it’s not just the doctors who volunteer to kill babies that we need to worry about now.
Note: Apologies for the truncated post that was up for a few minutes. Some glitch with WordPress, apparently.