Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Love Letter To My Patients

If I can explain it will you understand?

Will you understand the wave and roll of the belly upon waking every morning of residency. The overwhelming nausea not caused by anxiety or fear (both of which are present)but by lack of sleep accumulated over months.

Or the shear panic of getting up after an hour of rest to an incomprehensible day chocked full of lectures, rounding, and an overwhelming amount of patient care to deliver. And realizing that returning home will only occur in twelve hours after each task is completed.

Will you understand a training that stresses pushiness, impatience, and bullying to such an extent that softness and empathy turn from a golden star to an Achilles heal. How one learns to yell, scream, and shake fists as a matter of course. As if these are things that normal people do in normal professions.

Until the outer skin becomes so tough and protective that not only can't sadness and pain get in but love and joy can't escape out. And a spouse sitting across the table watching as words sputter and a head bobs forward in mid sentence, wonders if it is worth it.

Would you understand the distant look as you describe the pain from your fracture, your migraine, or your gout. The mind cluttered and reeling from the last patient who was told that she was dying as her husband groaned and sobbed by her side. The brain numb from a torrent of paper, and forms, and phone calls accumulating on the desk in the adjacent office.

Has anyone ever told you that physicians are skilled at building barriers? On bad days we carry a mortar and trawl.

Can you see that I am trying to carry a sledge hammer here?

1 comment:

dymphnasis said...

Very nice. I think it's difficult to understand where other people are coming from, this may be particularly true in medicine. BTW, I am an IV RN @ HPH. Do you see patient's at the hospital? Strange if I have read your blog not knowing we likely cross paths from time to time.