Sometimes my job is really hard. We see so much hardship, so much unfairness. But, for some reason we are just supposed to let it go and pretend it doesn't exist. I think that most of the time it has to be that way. If I thought about all the awfulness that exists in what I do, I don't think I could do what I do. Maybe that is why there is so much black humour in medicine. We make light of things so that we can carry on, so we can sleep at night.
Once in awhile, though, it catches up with you. The first time someone dies on your table, you never forget. The faces of the families haunt you. And, always the questions: did you do everything you could? Was there something more? And, what if it had been someone else doing the case, would the outcome be different?
So, the other night I cried. I cried for the first person to die on my table, and the many more after that. I cried for the babies born into this world with parents who are on drugs and can't care for them properly. I cried for the people whose diagnosis of cancer is confirmed in the OR. The women told they couldn't have children. And for the children and parents I have cared for both in the OR and ICU who have fought and lost. Most of all, though, I cried for their families.
I believe that there is an afterlife. I believe in a higher power who looks after us and cares for us. I believe that we all go to a better place, or a least get a second chance. So, it is the families that it is hard on. That is who misses them, who grieves.
And that night, I grieved with them.