Sometimes on long night shifts I become more emotional & tired and I start to see things.
Not hallucinations. Not imaginary creatures.
I see my kids in my patients.
The sleeping, drunk teenager with a thick thatch of blonde hair. The serious, perfectionist student with dark rimmed glasses having an anxiety attack. The crying teenaged boy who just wants his mom. The scared girl who wants to be strong enough to handle any situation.
(I don’t blog about work for obvious privacy reasons, and those examples are conglomerates of several different patients.)
But it occurs to me this morning, following a particularly long, violent shift … that even though it breaks my heart into little tiny pieces to see my children in my patients, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Maybe some of my coworkers are more naturally compassionate and don’t have to have kids to be compassionate. I think I grew that bone when I had my kids and I realized that every single person was once a sweet, softly-breathing, lash-swept, beautiful child. Even the jerk trying to spit on me, even the prostitute, even the defensive, grumpy old man.
But I prefer to come home and think that I chose compassion over all the other options tonight. (Irritation, dismissing, patronizing, bored, cranky, tired, jaded…)
Or … this might be the breakfast beer talking.