…and I am a little wobbly.
I definitely need to preface this all by saying medicine can be so so rewarding. There is nothing better than a patient stopping you in the middle of the street to thank you for “saving” them or a patient that brings their entire family up to you at a restaurant because they just have to introduce you to their family as “the one that helps them sooo much”. Diagnosing a patient with something that no one else seemed to be able to figure out, delivering a precious babe, saving someone in a trauma….all beautiful things that make you smile when your head hits the pillow at night.
There are tragic things too. Tragic diagnoses that make you not even want to open that exam room door and walk in to see that special patient. I write special because he/she is. They all are. I would be lying if I said there are not some that touch you more than others but after taking care of someone for 7 years, you KNOW them. Not just the “medical” side of them. You know the real them, like that they have a “green thumb” with plants or love to babysit their grand babies or you may even know what kind of food they feed their cattle (seriously!). And, so your stomach hurts and sometimes a few tears may even fall before you open that exam room door because you know that when you open your mouth the words that flow out will change their life as they know it and those that love them forever and ever.
Depending on the patient, they may cry and you may too…with them and you may even hold them as they are often alone in that exam room. And when they leave, if you are lucky like I am you seek out your partner who understands. Who knows. Who has felt it. Who has been there too and she will now hold you.
The problem with me in medicine is this: second-guessing. This leads to guilt. I always think if only I had consulted this specialist instead of this one, if only I had referred here instead of there, if only. I am intelligent enough to realize how unrealistic that sentence reads but I am human. And, boy how do I love my patients.
This past ten days or so I have been on a balance beam and I am wobbly. I know why but just haven’t figured out yet how to get my balance. Grief. I am not coping with grief well. About a year ago I had similar symptoms as now. I refer you back to these posts.
Unfortunately I have lost many patients over the years and have grieved. I have always coped well, at least I think I have. When my Nana died last year and around that time when our little community kind of got hit hard I started having some trouble and then things gradually got better by the end of the summer. But in the past two weeks my Pepe has been ill and in the hospital~not doing well (so I’ve been thinking about the possibility of losing him) and after breaking news to a patient that is like a grandparent to me things have started again.
I am okay during the day, for the most part. My stomach drives me nuts. It is upset all the time. But mainly it is at night. Thank you Adam for holding me as I cry to sleep and for being their during the bad dreams. I’m not sure what they’re about but they must be “bad” because Adam says I’m crying. Sometimes I just wake myself up because of the wetness on my face from the tears. This is the exact same as last year.
I often wonder how much longer I can do this. I have seen some people practice medicine so long that they become almost immune to the grief and while I definitely want to cope better I do not want to become that way. Some days I think, ahhhh what a life it would be to work in an urgent care clinic somewhere just taking care of snot-noses and stomach aches!
We did a lot of praying to help me through last year and did go speak with someone that gave us the idea of the ducks, of which you may remember. The entire point to help me keep in mind that I can only control what I can control. Let me tell ya’ folks, a person can only have so many duckies without risking being locked up in the loonie bin I am for sure.
So. I am open to ideas. Besides the ol’ atta girl, you are doing these patients such a wonderful service and they are so blessed to have you as their provider, etc etc. I do feel that way too. They are blessed and I am blessed. Any of you have tips on grief because I am failing here miserably. At an F if I were to be graded.
love you guys…xoxo