This is definitely one for the personal column.
I recently went through a loss (which I don’t have the distance from to discuss yet.) What I will say is that by the time I got to work yesterday, I felt like I had absolutely nothing in the tank. I literally began the day wondering how I was going to manage to get out of bed. I’d had about 3 hours of sleep, no food, and had been crying for so long it looked like I was trying to throwback to my teenage years, when red eye shadow was
an acceptable a thing.
Dame fate has a cruel streak as this was also one of those days where there were endless fires to put out, and my patients needed everything I would have had on a good day.
Being a patient in general is a scary experience and it is crucial that they feel like they can be vulnerable with you, that you won’t judge them, and that you actually care. To quote one of my favorite Buddhist speakers Ajahn Brahm: “you must be a dust bin with a hole in the bottom.” One should be able to listen to concerns and help or advise without holding on to how this affects them personally. This takes a balanced mind, discipline, and patience. If ever there was a day this was not it…
And yet there they were. One person had a breakdown within 5 minutes of arriving. An evaluation came in with red flags for a severe nerve problem termed Cauda Equina Syndrome that had somehow been missed by her primary care doctor and VA doctor. Another person twisted their newly surgically repaired ankle… and so on.
As the day progressed, each time I thought to myself that I didn’t have anything else to give, I managed to find something. People who know me know that I am nicer than I first appear. I have an extremely abrasive layer covering an annoyingly soft heart. With each new crisis I dug a little deeper and found a little more empathy, cajoling, advice, and caring. By the end of the day I’d come to a half realization that a good deal of meditation and a bit of ice cream solidified. I had been considering my own state a sign of weakness. And yet weakness would have been giving up.
Yesterday, today…I imagine quite a few of the days in my near future are going to be miserable. They are going to be dark in the dead of summer. But a tiny little part of me knows I just found a slightly stronger version of myself.