It’s weird how you change when you have a child. I’ve always been quite emotionally detached… comes with the job. I’ve seen a lot of death, grief and suffering thus far in my career. It’s rarely fair and frequently heartbreaking. I’ve seen those who were ready to die but weren’t allowed. I’ve seen those who didn’t want to die but went regardless. From those that should but wont, to those who should not but do. The longing lonely waiting for death to the child who experienced so little of life. The advanced Dementia patient verses the young new mother. The joyrider verses the family of four. The joyride tends to be the one to walk away, leaving the death behind. It’s never predictable but as I said, it’s rarely fair and frequently heartbreaking. To take tragedies like this personally at work would leave you broken. You acknowledge the injustice and the sadness. You recognise the pity and the grief. You carry on, finishes your shift and forget all about it. It’s how it has to be. Be grateful you come home. Be grateful your partner and children still have a you and you them. Be grateful you’re not the one living bed bound in a care home, shouting for your mother at 90 years of age, unable to remember or recognise your own children. Being frightened day in and day out. Being ferried in and out of hospital because your bed ridden state makes you susceptible to UTI’s and Chest infections. Needles, blood tests, unfamiliar noises and surrounds. Test after test after test. Refusing to let you die so you can return to a care home and live out the rest of your days in that undignified, fearful state. The cruelty in that perceived right option. It’s from all this that I’ve protected myself from being detached. Yet I fear having a child is changing that perspective.
I’ve started to look at the world a little differently. Ive started thinking about my own family, especially Baby T. A part of my mind has now developed a sense of ‘what if?’. What if that was me in the car accident? What if that was my child who developed cancer? How would you/they cope. More so if you/they lost a child/parent. The robbed potential you see them day in and day out as they grow. The support and encouragement you provide towards their development snatched away. The special days stolen from you, or you from them on their special days. It fills me with equal parts rage and worry, like I’m no longer able to switch myself off properly. Is it a retraction of emotion distance; a reconnection to humanity if you will? Maybe it’s the return to one’s normality, having been so detached for so long. Is this how regular people think on a day to day basis? Or do they have the luxury of having an ignorant wonder to such events… Rarely seeing them except on the news, where they can acknowledge the injustice with a throw away comment and just, forget?
I still do my job and I’m able to switch off but not to the same degree. I find myself talking more about work as a form of therapy, which helps me process what I’ve seen that day. I never needed to do that once upon a time ago. I do wonder how long I can keep going within the environment of my profession. I feel a change to primary care or a clinic post might serve my mental health better in the longer run. It would vastly improve my quality of life. It’s the trade off between the cut and thrust of an emergency unit to the mundane environment of a clinic. The shift work vs the 9-5. The 9-5 life means you’ll never have to work another weekend, night shift, bank holiday or Christmas Day ever again. It means being at home with your family every night, every holiday. The shift work, however, means you don’t have to drive about in rush hour and do your shopping with the rest of the world at the weekend. This is equally as bad for your mental health if you ask me.
I’ve arranged 5 weeks off work in April. I don’t get paid for this time off but somethings are worth more than money. Be good to just wind down and take some time to direct my life. Put more focus on the family and myself. I can’t wait.
That picture was taken about 5 years ago during a (very rare) quiet night at work. Wasn’t me, just found him chilling in a resus cubical.