The Danger of Caring

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Medical Professionals are an interesting breed of folk. We are not immune from tragedy striking in our personal lives, and some of us are subjected to a constant bombardment of reminders when we go to work.

I love what I do. I get to hang out with the most eclectic crazy group of people almost every day, which allows me to cope with the sadness that comes along with my job. We develop coping skills over time, and eventually we learn how to watch other people suffering with an objective eye. We would not be able to return day after day if we could not keep everything in perspective.

For many of us, laughter is indeed the best medicine. We are full of inappropriate humor, and while it may seem insensitive to some, it is actually just our way of processing the horrors of ICU, and remaining sane. We develop little rituals and we have a plethora of superstitions. (You never say the Q word, observe how slow the unit is, or mention that frequent flyers name.) We trade war stories, and we collect memories that we can use for a quick laugh.

When our loved ones are patients in our hospital, or worse in our unit, the nice little boundaries get blurred. The personal and professional worlds collide, putting us at risk in every area of our lives. It is imperative to remember that we are only human, and it is okay to feel powerless, and to acknowledge our fears. We do not have to be the professional when we are indeed- the family.

I have had this experience a few times throughout my career, and I will remain forever grateful for my coworkers who allowed me the space to be a family member instead of a nurse or nurse practitioner. It helps.

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