on being brave

posted on: Thursday, November 22, 2012

all week i've been majorly bumming about working on Thanksgiving
and i've also been absolutely freaking. out.
about taking care of the sickest patients in the hospital
all by myself.

today wasn't as bad as it could have been.
no major crises.
i had it all [mostly] under control.
and i found countless reasons to be thankful.

for example,
so many of my patients couldn't eat today.
they were getting nutrition through feeding tubes
and were super bummed about missing out on the turkey.
they were also bummed about not being able to get out of bed.
they were in pain, from open abdominal wounds covered by wound vacs,
from external fixators screwed into their pelvis
from broken bones. 

i had a patient who suffered an irrecoverable brain bleed.
and her family decided to discontinue life support,
which was the right thing to do,
but so incredibly hard.

i am thankful for my health
and the health of my family
and my ability to eat
and get out of bed
and my job.
and sooo many other things.

but i also missed my family today
and wished i could have been with them, 
instead of taking care of other people's families.

i wished i could have cooked Thanksgiving dinner
and i wished i could have eaten a home-cooked dinner,
instead of cafeteria food at work
and leftover Mexican at home.

and i'm so thankful for my husband,
but i'm disappointed that his Thanksgiving plans were delayed
which meant that he wasn't home to be with me when i got off work.


i've been feeling guilty this week for my grumpiness
and general dissatisfaction with my circumstances.
i've been feeling convicted by the saying,
"it is not happy people who are thankful,
it is thankful people who are happy."

but i think the truth is somewhere in between.
that it might be possible to be thankful and pissed off.
maybe it doesn't make you unhappy,
maybe it just makes you honest?

i've been beating myself up for feeling so crummy.
because i truly believe in how important it is to be thankful
in all things.
even the crappy circumstances.
and i am.

but being thankful is not magically improving my mood.
and i'm tired of pretending.

it feels like almost too much.
i'm an emotional wreck
and every year, around this time,
i cling to the holiday season,
like a lifeboat in a tumultuous sea,
counting on it to bolster me and hoist me up
above the waves that are beating me over the head
threatening to drown me in my own tears.

i go to work every day, terrified that i'll encounter something i can't handle.
whether it's a situation that requires medical knowledge i haven't learned
and experience that i don't have,
or perhaps it's another tragic story that i'm way too affected by
adding to the huge emotional burden i'm already carrying
unable to put it down and let it go,
for fear that i'll lose my ability to feel anything at all.


then i find something like this, on silly ol' Pinterest
and it makes me feel like i just might make it.
i'm thankful all over again for the struggle
because it reminds me that i feel it all.
the thankfulness
the sorrow
the jealousy
the despair
the joy.

and that it's worth it.

hearts are funny things, eh?
happy (ha!) Thanksgiving


  1. You're very right. Being able to feel stuff isn't always that fun. But I would much rather have feelings than not. :) I love that you always end on the positive note.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. The thing you found on Pinterest is what the deal is! I felt like you did today - away from my family and fearing what might come into my ER... Fretting that they let the cook off and we weren't getting a Thanksgiving meal. It was in vain as one of the coolest doc's hooked us up with the whole works after his meal and I even got to leave for a while and eat with my friends and family. Sometimes it's cool here in small town Texas on I-10! Blessings...

  3. I know your being a doctor is important and all, and that you help bunches of people and that it's your life's dream, but I sure do enjoy Blogger-Emily. When I see you've got a post up, it's like I've just discovered a book I've never read by a favorite author or something- I know I can settle in and really get my mind wrapped around your words.
    You're so honest and raw in a way I think most of us feel but aren't willing to recognize- or at least not show the outside world. Once again, I am inspired by your words to remember that even my worst pity party at least has some cake for dessert- and when life knocks my feet out from under me (again and again and again, it seems lately), I won't get where I want to go without standing back up first.

    I know that's not exactly what your message was, but it's what I got from it- and what I *needed* to get from it. So again (I feel like I write this every post), thank you.

    Happy weekend?

  4. You can be thankful and pissed off at the same time. Totally. I get it. It stinks when things aren't the way you would have hoped they would be. But it's good that you are thankful too. It means your aren't whiny. :)

    I hope you had an ok Thanksgiving, friend. You survived it!

  5. Happy Thanksgiving!! I work retail, which is in no way the same as what you are going through... but I feel your pain a little bit. Hope the holidays continue to lift both of our spirits...

  6. Totally understand how you can be pissed off and thankful all at the same time. It just means that you are real. I feel that way sometimes too.

    I'm a new follower to your blog. And let me just say- I love how honest you are. It's so refreshing that you don't sugar-coat everything. You tell it how you see it.

  7. I'm sorry for the tough time you've been having lately. I have no idea how much pressure and stress you must be going through doing your job, and then having to miss celebrating the holiday as well.
    But hats off to you for being the person who sacrifices so much for your patients. I know their families appreciate what you do, and as a reader of your blog, I appreciate what you do :) So this Thanksgiving(even though as I write this Thanksgiving is over but you get the point), I'm thanking you and everyone like you, who sacrifice their holidays, and countless hours, for us.

  8. You are very brave. Thank you for your bravery and honesty with these genuine posts while you travel down this path of questions. Thinking of you Em x

  9. This brought tears to my eyes Em... you are so amazing. I can't even imagine what you see on a daily basis, and carry around with you. I think your compassion is what will make you an extraordinary doctor.
    Love you girl!


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