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It can be heartbreaking when you get that certain patient that has you at a loss, that challenges you physically, emotionally and intellectually. That certain gentle, kind, patient that looks at you with unwavering hope as you think to yourself “I don’t think I can fix you”. Sure, maybe I can help a little, but I don’t think we can fix this. It’s hard not to place an incredible amount of pressure on yourself, not to hold yourself entirely responsible for somebody else’s well being. This is the worst moment for me as a health professional. I’m learning to handle these moments. I still have days where I drive home trying to hold back the tears from what I’ve seen at work, from the “I can’t fix you” moments. Carrying the grief for patients who have lost their quality of life, or for those who no longer have their life at all.
I think that’s just what hospitals do to you. Everyday, spent with humans in their rawest form, sick, scared and vulnerable, but also incredibly strong.
So why do we do what we do???
We do it for the moments when your patient squeezes your hand in tears after they’ve taken their first steps again, for when a mums face beams ear to ear when their child reaches and grasps after little or no interaction, or simply for when a patient says “I feel better” or “thank you for your encouragement”.
Those are the moments we forget the tears, forget the burden, forget the losses and remember “this is why I come to work every morning”. There’s no feeling quite like it, the hope our profession brings, constantly trying to push boundaries, push ourselves, so we can impact others. Do we have all the answers? Not yet, but we can make a huge, positive impact on those we treat, I’m convinced half our job is to be enthusiastic and bring the energy when our patients have nothing left to give.
But how do we manage when we ourselves feel like we have nothing left to give? When I am exhausted and run down, I always try to remember the “grandma rule”… If this patient was my grandma, would I be happy with the treatment? Did I work hard enough? So, I go home, maybe shed some tears, have a cup of tea, pull my socks up and try again tomorrow. It might not be perfect and it’s almost always hard, but I am sure as hell proud of what I do.”