I am sitting here trying to roll my shoulders. The stress I’ve been feeling has taken over my body and I want out of this carousel. It is three days before Christmas and misery stops for no one. With every encounter, I tense even more. Because dealing with sick people during the holiday season is depressing as hell.
There was a very sick patient whose family member brought in, using the emergency room as if it was a clinic, instead of going to a primary doctor. It was an infuriating situation, but one that happens more often than people realize. A lot of patients are unaware of how the healthcare system works in the United States. Other times,they simply don’t have insurance and go to the ER because they know they won’t be refused treatment. Other times, patients do not receive any type of preventive care and when they get to the emergency room, it’s too late.
Do you know how sad it is to have no one during the holidays? When living on the fringes of society due to disease or poverty, it’s a daily occurrence. People are discarded like a soiled diaper as if they weren’t…people. And I am not implying people need to put up with X behavior forever, but I have seen a systematic lack of compassion that seems to mirror who we are as a nation right now. And that’s even more depressing.
I need to constantly remind myself that I am helping people every day, that I am making a difference. Even with that daily reminder, it is hard to deal with the lack of empathy some people show. However, not everyone is like that and that’s what keeps me going. That and the fact that there are more people like me in the trenches, giving it their best.
Less than forty-five minutes, and I am going on vacation. I have been looking forward to this for six months. All I need is to do this a little bit longer, and I will be able to recharge.
I have been working the night shift for six months. At first, it seemed to be easy peasy. Uncomplicated cases, boring problems. I had time to read and play games between sessions. Lately, it seems the gates have opened. Case after grueling case, no time to breathe. I deal with suicidal individuals, meth addicts in the emergency room, pregnant ladies ready to give birth. I deal with angry customers, drunk people and lonely men. I separate myself from the content of the cases in order to survive the night. I am but a vessel, one that needs emptying at the end of every encounter. I am not going to lie, some nights it feels like I am the toilet and all that passes through is the smelliest, foulest shit. Some nights, it’s really hard to come back from all of that.
I have been struggling for so long, I no longer know which way is up or down. I do my job, I sleep.When I remember I eat. I only exist. This emptiness I feel has been my constant companion for a long time. I have rolled around from there to here and somehow, I end up fucking up everything I touch. I have the best intentions, but somehow, anger gets the best of me, anxiety eats me up alive. And the words I want to really say get lost and all that comes out is rage. My job is the only thing I haven’t managed to screw up. My fear is that it’s only a matter of time before I fuck that up too. I am constantly stressed, constantly scared that the rug is going to be pulled out from under me once again.
I know this is no way to live, but I don’t know what to do. I am completely lost. The only good thing I can do is the same thing that drains me the most. All I’ve ever wanted was to be light for those that I love. Somehow, the only thing I have managed is to be toxic. I keep making mistakes and I don’t seem to learn the lesson. If there’s something that I do, is that I never give up. So I will continue fighting. So that I can be light in this world full of darkness.
In Game of Thrones, Melissandre intones this phrase, almost like a warning. She serves, ironically, the Lord of Light. As you know, truth is stranger than fiction. And I am here to tell you that indeed, the night is full of terrors. I have been working the night shift for six months and I have dealt with pretty crazy stuff. The stories that will be shared here are a fictionalization of some of what I have dealt with. I will also share some of the musings that come with the quiet (or not so quiet, depending on the day) hours of the early morning…Because nothing good ever happens at 2am…..