Mar 29, 2012

Supressing the bitch in me

There are so many different aspects and roles to play in this one job that even though I thought I had seriously considered it before going in there really is no way to be prepared. You know that people are going to expect a lot from you, and that what they expect still can’t reach what you expect from yourself. You know that there will be horrible losses, horrible mistakes and tragedies in your proximity on a nearly daily basis – sometimes even caused by or at least not prevented by you. You know you will feel inadequate at least a couple of times a week – or being in a very competent surrounding, a couple of times a day. You know you need to have patience, with yourself, your colleagues and you patients. You will have to take a reprimand, fair or unfair, from a superior and try and turn it into a lesson you can use in the future. You will have to take shit, yours or others, and bite your tongue, swallow your nasty retort along with your tears and move on to the next patient.

Today I had to learn that swallowing your tears is a really hard thing to do, and even though I could manage while talking to the patient, I had to admit to myself that I am still a new and unhardened doctor, and for the first time in my working life, take a couple of minutes in the ladies room too collect myself and dry my tears. I get that people who talk to you in the condescending and degrading way that these people did to me today are just afraid and nervous. I get that it’s their way of staying in control, getting all the facts, caring for their loved one. I really do understand that, and I knew it going in to this kind of work, but somehow it still doesn’t help in the moment, at least not yet. Maybe one day I’ll learn not to be affected, to get goose feathers and just let it slide off when patients yell or are disappointed or whatever. I know I can be patient and understanding, and damn it I know I’m good at patient care and the “soft” aspects of this job! I’m just not sure about the whole being a silent punching bag thing though...    

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