It was one of those days in A&E where there were nearly as many patients in the corridors as they were patients in cubicles, where the list of waiting to be seen patients was long and never ending, where worktops started to get really messy, where colleague fuses tend to run short.
I think I have a sort of love-hate opinion about A&E (not shaking off the UK terminology not sorry). I love the range and variety of presentations and how I get to do a bit of everything. I've done speculums and slit lamps and sutured and plastered and jabbed more kiddies throats with fake ice creams sticks than I've ever done before. It's great. I love the generalist-ness of it all.
The hate part comes not just from the crazies that come but from colleagues whose fuses are short probably in part when the workload gets harder. Then there's the colleagues whom I just barely manage to get along with at work. Me being the ok-with-anyone type personality can usually get along with most people. Perhaps that's what they can't stand about me. That I'm too wishy washy and don't stand for anything. In loud and proud Australia, being overly humble and meek and pandering is not a prized attribute. Nothing gets me down more than the disdain of a senior colleague and this can spiral badly.
A colleague snapped at me in front of some patients. I'd already had a less than stellar run with doing a backslab wrong and wasn't feeling too great. Another colleague comforted me in an amazing way by just letting me get off the floor for a few minutes to get some air
Sometimes I wonder if I'm truly cut out to be a doctor, emotionally. I feel like I don't have empathy, especially with psych(o) patients. There are too many examples when I have thought dully to myself it would be better if they didn't exist. Everytime a registrar is caught up in resus with some repeat teenage overdose, or the multiple presentations alcoholic who uses his benefits money to buy more booze, the homeless druggies who end up intubated on a $4000 a night ICU bed- I catch myself thinking why do we try so hard to save these people who are trying to kill themselves? Why can't we just let them be?
Is it wrong for me to think this way? Probably.
And then sometimes, someone just shows me so much compassion I wonder what I would have done without it. My heart overflowed with gratitude at his kindness but the only and best way I knew to repay it was to pay it forward.
But also, in times of stress and hardship, will I be like the colleague who snapped or the colleague who comforted? It is much easier to be nice when you are not under duress.
God grant me love and compassion in difficult times, towards people that are hard to love.