it has been a rough week, y'all.
this is the part where my job starts to kick my heart's ass.
i'm overworked and overtired, yes.
so what else is new.
but this week has been about more than that.
|an instagram repeat. harry potter the doctor. my halloween costume.|
that was my halloween costume.
some people didn't get it,
because i never got around to drawing the scar on my forehead.
just as i was about to, my first patient of the night was a guy having a heart attack
and his wife looked terrified...white as a ghost.
i figured she didn't need her husband's doctor
to be dicking around with a lightning bolt scar on her head
but i digress.
i've had some rough cases.
usually i try really hard not to refer to patients as "cases".
but it's becoming a self-preservation mechanism.
in one week, i had a shaken baby,
a young woman who bled out into her pelvis fracture and died.
cracked a five-year-old's chest and still couldn't save her.
and spoke to a woman with severe pelvic and femur fractures for the last time before she coded and died in the OR.
this isn't a post about the medicine.
i don't care about the cerebral aspects of it all.
"you did what you could."
"can't save them all"
"this stuff happens"
i'm writing about my struggle to cope.
i think i referenced the fact that i cried at work last week.
maybe some of you cry at work all the time.
but it's not a very popular thing to do where i work.
being an emergency department in a military hospital,
it's much more acceptable to tough it out.
partially, i think, because people don't need you crying all over the place
reminding them that they're humans, doing an impossible job.
but that's neither here nor there.
i've struggled this week.
not just because i cried at work.
i'm actually pretty okay with that.
it might not have been the popular, cool, or tough thing to do
but it seemed like the human thing to do.
to cry when a four-month-old has old, healing rib fractures
and blood in his brain and retinal hemorrhages.
to be horrified that someone, anyone, could do that to a baby.
and to have held it in long enough to get the baby up to the PICU where he would be safe
before letting it out while finishing up the paperwork.
that experience drained me.
i was physically and emotionally exhausted when it was over
but it was only 11am.
and i still had 4 hours left in my shift.
more patients to take care of.
so i swallowed my emotions
and put my work face back on as best i could.
but then we received a five-year-old traumatic arrest
which means that her pulses and breathing had stopped as a result of her injuries
she wasn't in a car seat when the driver of the car she was in
swerved into oncoming traffic
and hit a bus.
we did everything we could, including cracking her chest, and still couldn't save her.
that one barely fazed me too...
but the next day, i was a wreck.
a woman was hit by a truck in the church parking lot,
crushing her pelvis and her femur
but she was awake and talking to me for the entire time she was in the ER
then she went to the OR and succumbed to her injuries.
i'm starting to wonder how much more i can take.
the easy thing would be to just stuff it all down.
to chock it up to being part of the job
but i worry that it makes me less human, if i choose not to feel it.
and that is my struggle.
i'm equal parts terrified that this job is going to make me hard and cynical
and terrified that it won't.
which would be worse?
to be an emotional basket case after strings of cases like this because it's all just so horrifying?
or to be a hardened shell of a human being who takes it all in stride?
i have a hunch that there are going to be many more tears shed at work for me.
and thanks to Zooey, i'm starting to feel a little more okay with that.