I've taken care of teenagers who have already developed pancreatitis and young kids whose drug addictions have caused their hair to thin, their gums to recede and their eyes to seemingly sink into their face as they stare back at you blankly. Girls whose number of pregnancies nearly equal their ages. Kids murdered while perpetuating the cycle of gang violence, and innocent victims of it.
And just last night a patient not much older than I in multiple organ failure after his drug addiction finally succeeded in ruining his life. Admitted upstairs for emergent dialysis, he was still too high to comprehend that his damaged body was killing him from the inside out.
With graduation season in full bloom and clips of commencement speeches and caps being tossed in the air showing up on the evening news, it's sad to see those whose aborted futures ended before they ever really began.