Being a doctor is far from glamorous, it’s…
To be tired
To feel hopeless
To feel you’ve given everything you have
To know sometimes your everything isn’t going to be enough
To cry for the lives lost
To smile for the lives saved
For a sacrifice of time and energy so great your reservoir is often empty
To relive every second of what could be done differently
To in spite of everything thank God for the skill he’s blessed you with
To know that with the tank on E you’d still get up and do it all over again
For the love:
Whatever idea people have of being a doctor in their minds, I promise you that unless you’ve laid your heart on the floor in this exact fashion you have no idea how it feels.
I love what I do
I’ve always tried to live an authentic life in service to others and God knows that’s why I’m a doctor, but within my first year of my profession I knew instinctively my life would never be mine again
I’ve relied on my friends, family and significant other to all understand that though I love them, one of my first loves is completely unforgiving in leaving room for anything or anyone else
But sometimes I mourn not being normal
Sometimes I wonder about life on the other side
How would it feel to work 8-4 daily
The expectation of what Friday brings
Having set gym times
Being able to take up a dance class
To have the room to find a greater love
To just exist as Lynn
I did know the sacrifice of time, of energy…sacrifices family and friends would have to make for me
I just didn’t realize that part of me would die too
There’s never a minute I don’t think of a case I’ve seen, a patient I’ve helped, the ones that slipped away
I have become medicine but …I don’t want that
I want it to exist as a function of who I am. Like any other body part to find its place and its function, and I guess that’s what has brought me here…to leaving my job
It took me a while to realize my destiny isn’t tied to my first job or the hospital I work at. I used to live my life in so much fear until I realize that wasn’t living at all
That was a real, raw, exhausted, burnt out me back then in 2018. A lot happened since that time but we’re going to make a major fast forward…
Just like that the first quarter of 2021 is done. It’s been a quarter spent in pandemic and self-imposed isolation apart from work. At this point I don’t have to tell you how it is. I feel like we all are singing in the same choir, in the same simulation even if we’re singing different parts.
Last year was more of a ‘when COVID-19 ends’ for me. With this particular tsunami this year I was determined to protect my mental well-being from feeling like I was losing chunks of my life.
Introspection….elevation …equanimity…intention…those have been the guiding words of this period.
I started doing a class on Mindful Self-Discipline by Giovanni Dienstmann and in one session he spoke about balancing virtues. Every virtue we seek he said, is a psychological asset, but has to be tempered otherwise they can cast shadows on your life.
The most profound example I can give is the one that brought me here, back to old scribblings, back to this blog. (Well y’all reading know I never actually came back in April, it’s August 22nd now and it’s anyone’s guess if I’ll actually post this) Compassion and empathy, some of the best virtues. It’s how we relate to each other, feel, learn, stretch, grow but even the best of virtues can cast…shadows.
What shadows can compassion and empathy ever cast?
And that’s where I’m at.
Burnout particularly among emergency physicians was the basis of my post-graduate thesis. I know what it is, how to prevent it, the measures that work but I’m not immune in anyway. No one really is. The empathetic switch needed from patient to patient , the repeated exposure to traumatic events..those are just two reasons why healthcare workers particularly in emergency rooms are most at risk for burnout.
To say I’ve had a rough week is an understatement. I’ve cried with patients, family members, colleagues, and this is apart from anything COVID related. I’ve felt low, I’ve felt defeated. It took me back to a time where I was driving home from work in 2018, pulled my car over on a lonely cart road and started writing on a loose piece of paper. Crying and writing, writing and crying after a resuscitation filled shift. That’s the shadow.
I’ve always toyed with if to share what I wrote then here but in everything, we all need to know we’re not alone.
To the doctors, nurses, paramedics , EMTs, ERTs, orderlies…just know that past all the frills, you are actually seen.
You are seen for your light, you are seen for your shadows, and I am eternally grateful every day to call you colleagues.