I’ve been meaning to write about crying for some time…more than just the “and then I cried” that typically follows most of my little diatribes. During a Doctoring session a couple weeks ago, I commented on my clinic experiences so far: “I’m having the best time…but, I mean, I cry all the time.”
The response I got following that session floored me. Many of my colleagues are also having clinical experiences complete with–let’s just say it–sometimes straight out weeping…and no, they were not only women or only the “emotional” ones.
I’m not sure I have anything to profound to say…just a quick explanation, then a criticism:
In my mind, there are two main reasons for emotionally crumbling on the wards:
- We’re in hospitals. We care for sick or injured patients, who are often in a great deal of pain, discomfort, and confusion. We develop relationships with our patients and their families. And sometimes people die. Or we send them home with the expectation that they will die shortly. This is sad stuff. We’re human.
- We show up for an average of six 12-hour shifts a week, feel entirely incompetent, try our damnedest to complete tasks that it would take anyone else on the care-providing team a fraction of the time to complete (and that will most likely have to be redone by someone else anyway), and then retreat to a hole somewhere to study for the remainder of waking hours. It’s frustrating. And it’s exhausting to be horrible at something for that many hours a week, ya know?
My crying breakdown: 5% point 1; 95% point 2.
I’m an easy crier. I’ve been like this my whole life, and it’s embarrassing. But sometimes I can’t help but wonder…I cry when I’m frustrated…so? I’m not unkind to my colleagues. I’m not callous or short with my patients. I don’t throw scalpels. Seriously, if that’s the worse thing I do when I’m frustrated, what do I need to be embarrassed about? The face of the medical profession is going to look a lot different in 10 years. Throwing scalpels is already considered unacceptable by many practices, and I anticipate that won’t be the only change in expectation.