Priya died one year ago today. She was 29.
In Memory of Priya
Our program is kind of odd that we grow very close with the people in alternating years -- 1st year interns are mostly supervised by 3rd year residents, who are mostly supervised by a chief who was a 3rd year when the 3rd years were interns. There are only a few opportunities to work directly with the 2nd years, who are off at Bayview or elsewhere. Priya was a year ahead of me, so our direct interaction was limited to time we had together in the CCU.
Priya was my CCU resident when I was an intern for just one night of call, and also on my CCU team for another 2 weeks. She was also in my firm, so I knew her pretty well through that. But it was clear from that short time that she was spectacular. When she was a senior resident, she was one of the strongest and the most respected in our programs. Indeed, we learned at her funeral that she was offered one of the 4 chief spots.
It was obviously incredibly painful to have someone so young and promising die. Nothing good can be said of the whole thing. But there were a few points to take away from the whole thing. When Priya got sick, she was choppered in to our hospital from the community hospital to which she had been admitted. She had the heads of many departments at this hospitals pore over her case. Her case was discussed by world experts in neurology, infectious diseases, rheumatology, pathology, and of course internal medicine. Everything that could be done was done. Every stone that could be turned was turned. Not only did she pass, but even after an extensive autopsy, we never arrived at a diagnosis. She will never let us forget that we are always limited in our practice of medicine.
The other thing that can be said is that this program is much more like a big extended family than it is like a regular job. First, obviously, the pain of the loss that we all felt was more akin to a family member than it was for a co-worker. Second, the whole program pulled together, coverage for people who needed to attend the funeral and the other events was arranged without an eyeblink, and support was put into place. I try not to drink the whole "#1 hospital/#1 program" Kool-Aid, but I think it is a huge testament to our program.
Priya will be missed. There will be a dinner for her tonight which I will try to attend despite pulling this 18 hour overnight->day shift.