It’s not what we do, it’s who we are.

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Sometimes, I get inside my car, I shut the door, and I cry. I just sit there and cry, because honestly, I just don’t know what else to do.

We’ve all been there, those 12 hour shifts that magically turn into 14, 15. You’re exhausted, your feet hurt, you haven’t eaten, and you’re overwhelmed with emotion or numbness, whichever one the day brought on. You don’t want to reflect, you just want to drive…but you have to, you have to cope, nothing good can come from bottling it up inside. So, you cry. You just sit there and cry. Then you wipe your face, you put on your seatbelt, and you drive home in silence, because in our world, sometimes the absence of sound is the best therapy of all.

The last few weeks have been tough for us, our job is hard, and people don’t understand what we do. It can be incredibly frustrating. Our acuity is high, our volume is outrageous, and we are exhausted. Physically, mentally, emotionally, exhausted. The people I work with are incredible human beings, I’m not lying, these people are the cream of the crop, and they are worn out, how could they not be. I seriously lost count of the traumas and strokes we had in one shift last weekend. It’s a lot to swallow. Pumping on the chest of a teenage traumatic arrest, followed by giving tylenol to a screaming baby, de-escalating a violent psych patient, cleaning a GI bleed, and then chasing an angry lady with dementia down the hall. Only to empty your beds and start all over again. It will wear on you.

I just wish you could watch these people work, with their red faces, sweaty foreheads, loving hearts, kind hands, and tired eyes. Eating M&Ms for dinner out of the “community candy dinner pile” for the third night in a row. It’s amazing. They don’t complain when they hear the report of another trauma or incoming patient, they gown up and stand tall, ready for whatever the next challenge may be. They are inspiring. They are heroic. Each one playing a vital role, each one looking out for the other, and all of us dancing together to save lives. Never losing hope, never forgetting who we are, and never losing that spirit, the one that keeps us laughing on the darkest of days.

I don’t always know how we keep going, how we find the strength to get back up, put back on our scrubs, and walk back through those doors. I won’t lie, sometimes it’s hard. It seems as if there must be much easier jobs out there, jobs that don’t demand life or death, jobs that don’t require driving home in silence, but that’s not what we do. So we pick ourselves up, we wipe the sweat from our brows, the tears from our eyes, and we push on. We keep going, because it’s not what we do, it’s who we are.

-Melina

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4 thoughts on “It’s not what we do, it’s who we are.

  1. We appreciated seeing your smiling face Sunday night during your 13th hour of work. All of the staff was wonderful and provided excellent care despite the number of patients you were treating. Thank you for what you do and WHO YOU ARE!

  2. I am a registered nursing student currently working in home care. I have been following your blog religiously since you started posting, and find your thoughts both informative and interesting: so thank you, and keep it up! This post was especially helpful today, as I just lost my first patient. I had no idea how much it can hurt, when I’ve known her less than a month. The hardest part is moving on without being able to properly say goodbye to her and her children, after I’ve been a part of their little family so regularly for the last few weeks. My job is nowhere near as stressful as yours (though I hope to one day work in the ED), but it is comforting to hear that there are others out there who care just as much about their patients, and that it is okay to grieve for them. Thank you again!

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