In medicine, professionals walk into people’s lives when we are needed. Our patients are usually not happy we’re there, that we’re needed at all. We try to help them through the darkest and scariest, sometimes the last, days of their lives – and we’re asked not to form a relationship with them. When they leave our care, we are highly discouraged from maintaining contact – most times with the hint of termination hanging in the air.
Some people are angry at their diagnosis and they focus that anger onto us – unconsciously placing a faint sense of blame onto our impersonally clothed shoulders. We’re viewed as rude, ‘too busy to care’ and only in it for the money, as if our pockets are growing fat with every 10 dollar aspirin. We are often understaffed and sleep deprived, rushing to do all the necessary procedures and dressing changes, evaluations and so on. We scarf down half of a dry sandwich for lunch to get back to our patients, where we’re met with their anger for their wait. A wait they perceive has been prolonged by a lengthy coffee break, full of laughs and joviality. Sleep deprivation is mistaken for apathy. I found this thing I identified so strongly with myself, a love for my fellow man, a desire to help, was being lost. It was invisible to the very people I was trying to care for. I was becoming ‘a necessary evil’ and I couldn’t handle it.
The beauty in life became muted. My coworkers, the hardened veterans of the field who’d seen, heard and smelled it all, told me to soldier on. “You get used to it,” or “It gets better.” The same shit they tell you in high school. I would think about the brevity of life often and I would panic, thinking about spending the better part of mine ‘muted.’
As a creative individual I feared losing that creativity. I spend most nights pestered by insomnia, my faithful friend. Passing the hours reading, drawing, painting, sewing, knitting or writing. I bleed with a desire to share something with the world, something beautiful and worthwhile, pure in a way I could never be. Something that touches someone. At the time, I wasn’t making any progress toward that.
I couldn’t continue. I am not made of the same enduring and devoted stuff that composed my coworkers, the longer I waited the more apparent it became. I want to see all the good that I can in every person and situation around me, and when I find it I want to hold on to it.