There’s nothing glamorous about pronouncing a person dead at the age of 34. The ER is brutal on many levels. We stick needles in veins and shove tubes and fingers into orifices. We routinely see people on the worst days of their lives and countless addicts killing themselves with varying poisons. Often our work is thankless, even if we saved a life. We receive curses, spit, unrighteous anger, and can be berated for our efforts to help. I clearly remember a drunk woman who screamed at me for 20 minutes about my “terrible staff” because, after being left to sleep in her room for several hours, she awoke to a TV show had snakes on it and she is afraid of snakes. I was selfishly busy intubating. Day after day in such environment can really drag a person down.
The scariest three words to hear from one of my partners are “remember that patient…” I know what comes next, and it is never “you did a great job, they are still home feeling great.”
Despite this, stay positive.
In residency I worked in Flint, Michigan’s motherland of bleakness. I had many people ask me how I stayed upbeat. Usually I gave them a typical Rob response (“oh it’s just the sprinkle of Meth in my coffee”), however, the harsh reality is sometimes I occasionally feel pretty crummy too. I have bad days. I get depressed, and surly, and pissed off. A wise ER physician (I love you Dr. Smith) once told me that sometimes you just have to fake it till you make it. At the time he was referring to residency, where you sometimes have to go in both guns blazing even if you unsure of yourself. Attitude it is much the same.
I see people who loathe being alive. Depressed people trying to commit suicide, elderly crack addicts, and homeless people with nothing left to lose can tear you apart. I’ve seen fellow workers become jaded and angry with all the crap and violence. Some people degrade patients, some yell at patients, and others cease to care. I wonder if I too might someday become similar. Certainly I have had to deal with continuous levels of anger, depression, psychosis, and despair; in time will I also have an apathetic outlook?
I don’t know. I doubt it.
At my core I try to beam positivity regardless of the consequences. We are so fortunate; all of us. We have friends, family, food, shelter, chances to better ourselves. Every day we should be positively brimming with thanks for the amazing wonder that is life instead of whining that we don’t have enough. I recently read a post (and I’m paraphrasing here) where a father told his daughter you look at your neighbors house only to be sure they have enough, never looking to see if they have something you don’t.
Crisis is everywhere. Be happy with what you have.
Every person has a breaking point. It crushes me seeing people who have given up. I hope I never give up. I don’t plan to any time soon.
Often in the ER we see people who care for nothing but themselves, and often they barely cared about that. Yet they have no desire to change. I spend much of my time listening to how bad everyone’s life is. Every patient felt the world pressing against them. Many of them were relatively young (anything less than 40 is young), disabled in one way or another (depression, chronic pain, etc), and unemployed. However, very few seemed to be actively doing anything to change. If your job is being a librarian, and you become irate whenever someone ask you where a book is, it is time to look for a new job (true story). Some are unable to change, and I do my best to help. Some are unwilling to change. Unfortunately, some have given up.
Change is motion. Change is choice. Change starts with attitude which every person on this planet has complete control over. You will make mistakes. So learn from them, but don’t be afraid to try.
Being an optimist in such a frustrating environment is not as challenging as you might think. Remember, I’m not the one in the cot, so I should be happy. Coming in every day with a smile can provide hope for someone who may have just lost it. I have found that the people who can take a step back and laugh periodically are the ones I trust and want to be with. I am happy. I am thankful.
You should be too.
Embrace the attitude of positivity.
I am so thankful to God and friends and family for the chances I have had and the opportunities and experiences I have had, you should be too.
Need more reasons to feel thankful, check this guy out, he’s happy.
Hey. I’m also thankful that you click the “my page” below and like me on my facebook page 😀