Sunday, October 27, 2013
I mean you will try. But eventually the poor gentleman cowering in bed will just become the homeless guy in room 114. New admissions will cease to be opportunities to heal or learn. You will dread the extra work. Blood on your hands will no longer be the ephemeral pulsating evidence of life recently passed, but instead will be the muck mixed with excrement that you mercilessly scrape from your soiled hands.
And in those lonesome times when you're well rested enough to surface from the meandering haze of responsibility and fear, you'll scoff at the refection in the mirror. A mere shadow of your premedical self, you will feel nothing but disgust.
Who am I? What have I become?
Many will scold me for saying that it is inevitable. Am I too callus? The soft supple character that leads us to medicine becomes quickly incompatible with the harshness of having one's hands intertwined in the bowels of the dying. We all are mangled by the inevitable gears that grind daily on the smooth surface of our psyches.
If you are lucky, you will hold on to your humanity when it is safe. You will cry unnervingly at the end of a movie so much so that others will look on awkwardly. You will seek pleasures, whether carnal or gastronomic. You may decide to exercise more, run a marathon.
In those moments when the sweat drips from your brow and the muscles in your calfs strain, you will feel alive. Maybe more than you ever did in the hospital. This will calm the unnerving emptiness you sometimes feel at work.
Life will not always be so smooth. Friends will tell you that you are distant. Lovers will say that you can be cold.
But with time the joy you so carefully cultivate outside the examining room can inch it's way inward. You may not connect with every patient, but you will learn to hold a hand, touch a shoulder, shed a tear. You will no longer be soft or naive, however, that is gone for good.
Maybe you will be wise. Kind. An old soul.
And life will pass before your eyes.
And one day, perhaps, you'll become a husband or wife.
Posted by Jordan Grumet at 9:38 AM