June 23, 2007 Personal ghosts.

Halfway through my most recent tour I thought I was going to be coming home to write about all the fun I had this week, in comparison to the work I'd had the tour before... but perhaps I'd jumped the gun a bit.

Things started off pretty fun...with corporate challenge and also with seeing myself (parts anyway) in the paper. I was volun-told for the challenges of a 1-minute commercial AND the 'superhero'. A couple of instances of total loss of dignity LOL. (The lengths students will go to, to pass practicum.)

However it was near the end that I found myself with a bigger work related challenge. Of course I cannot go into a lot of detail as this patient has a right to privacy. But the challenge is in how I am coping.

The very life experiences which I have been told over and over again will only make me a better practitioner seem to be the same experiences which are playing with my emotions. So tonight (or this morning depending how you look at it) I pose a question to those more weathered who may be reading:

How do you cope with the patients who are in a health crisis which tugs on your very soul?

My analytical mind is hard at work trying to make sense of what I felt during my interaction with this patient...and how I have felt since I transferred care. The chief complaint is not the cause for my emotional status, but rather the underlying history which will inevitably be what takes this person to another world.

This isn't a case where I question what I could have or should have done as treatment and patient care were superb at all points. On introspective thought it would seem I merely feel sorrow for this person's situation. Perhaps even guilt that my own similar history has so far netted a more positive result: survival.

It's the unfairness and randomness that upsets me. I have never really felt angry about the hand that I've been dealt. In fact I discourage everyone else from ever feeling anything like that for me. I've never wanted pity...could never accept such a thing. But now a stranger who I had the pleasure of meeting and knowing for maybe an hour seems to have touched me deeper then many I've known for years. And I am saddened.

I wonder if it's this sort of reaction which cuts a career short. I wonder if it's impossible to be successful in EMS without a hardened heart. I wonder if I will be forced to sacrifice something that is very defining of me, and what I offer in my relationships with people no matter how long or short it may last. The losses I have experienced, the battles I have fought and won with my health have made me capable of such an enormous never-ending love for people and for life...I would hate to lose any of that because in many ways it's the one thing that makes me feel alive still.

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