One of the first things they told me was to not get attached….
Your care ends after you walk out the doors, your job is done……
You can’t get attached…
and I don’t….most of the time…..
but sometimes I have to….
I NEED to.
I need to get attached so that I can remember why.
I need to get attached so that I don’t forget the feeling.
I need to get attached so that I can keep going.
I need to get attached because I need to remember that it wasn’t all for nothing.
See the thing is my job might be to care and provide for patients, but at the end of the day they’re providing to me.
In a weird emotional way it’s like every time I get the chance to care for someone the giant gaping hole in my heart from all the chaos being sick has caused me heals just a little more.
I’m not sure the hole will ever entirely be full again but I know that everyday I get to care for patients, a day farther out from being the patient, the hole fills a little more.
I remember my first hospice patient, and the month after that in which I checked the local obituaries every day wondering if they had passed away.
I remember the first child I said goodbye to, as I tucked them into their bed, whispered in their ear and brushed their hair out of their eyes. I hugged the mother knowing that I was the last medical professional she would see until her child passed away and I stood there until she was ready to let go.
A lot of the memories aren’t happy, in fact most of them are painful. It’s not a career full of glitter and balloons. It’s a rare day that we hear the ending to the story. We are there when it starts, when its happening, but how it ends, we usually never know. For us, it stops at the automatic doors leading back out to the ambulance bay, because we aren’t supposed to get attached.
The truth is talking for half an hour with an elderly patient about our pet cats isn’t just a distraction to them, it’s an assurance that I, me, MYSELF can be the someone, in that moment that someone needs. It’s the reminder that I am capable.
The truth is making stuffed animals talk and growl while dancing through the hallways before the patient goes in for radiation isn’t just to make them laugh. It’s the reminder to me that amidst all their chaos they still have a little bit of their childhood left. That they won’t be scarred forever, their holes will fill too.
The truth is explaining to parents that their child who wants to harm themselves, gets better and that this world is cruel and harsh and difficult for growing teens isn’t just to reassure them, it’s to remind me that Matthew’s pain was temporary, and that these kids that didn’t make a permanent decision to a temporary problem could have been him too.
The truth is that as much as I am there for them, I am also there for me too.
As much as I wake up each day and go to work with the mindset of helping others, I also go to work with the mindset of helping myself.
I find healing, in partaking in healing others.
I find comfort in comforting others.
I find strength in strengthening others.
I am who I am now, with the mindset I have now because of them.
So I have to get attached sometimes….
I HAVE to.
I refuse to be the robot like medical professional that provides care in a uniform way to every patient, every time. Who forms no bond with the patient, who shows no emotion.
I have to get attached, and I have to show emotion.
If those that cared for me didn’t show me the same attachment I have now I wouldn’t be here with this job. In fact I would be as far away from it as I possibly could. There’s some days I left offices and clinics and wanted to never face another medical professional.
But I refuse to be that way. I refuse to make others run anywhere but towards my care.
So sometimes I get attached, because I’m human, and it’s a human thing to do, but also because I need to.
Because it keeps me going.