I have heard through the grapevine that certain people are not so interested in reading what I write here because it is, and I quote, “too sad.”

It’s never occurred to me that my job is especially sad. Yes, I’m surrounded by sick people, and yes, most cheese danish to be found in our hospital is abysmal. But by this point, most of my colleagues and I have created so much distance between ourselves and our patients that it takes a lot to really make us feel sad about our work. Plus, we can always bring in danish from outside the hospital.

With the exception of the occasional paperwork nightmares and especially sleep-deprived days, I often have a lot of fun at work. There are just enough smart, snarky types to have a good verbal tussle with here and there, and it’s really fun to solve problems, both logistic and medical. If I stay focused on my own tiny little world, it’s possible to actually feel effective on a near-daily basis, which is really the foundation of job satisfaction.

If you want real human tragedy, consider that at 5:45 a.m. today, I was tugging at a grey hair I’d spotted in a hospital bathroom mirror, thinking, “How did I get this old?” then, “When was the last time I went on a date?” then, “Who wants to date people who have to be in the hospital at 5:45 a.m.?”

When I get sad about my work, it’s usually because I grieve my independence, my free time, my mobility, my old hobbies and dreams, and what’s left of my youth. I can separate myself from someone else’s illness enough to maintain an even emotional keel, but I have trouble avoiding the occasional sense that my patients aren’t the only ones wasting away.

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3 Comments on “Tragedy”

  1. Josh Says:

    Um, if you’re old, liebchen, what’s that make me?

    (If your answer is “Very old,” I have a reply for you that is wordless, but nonetheless both vulgar and most eloquent.)

    P.S. “Liebchen”? What is THAT about?

  2. Garth Says:

    I have to say, it never occurred to me that someone might see this as a “sad blog”. And even having heard that, I’m kind of unclear on the concept. Sad why? Because all the patients die? Because the protagonist is trapped within Medicine?

    I gotta say, I’m actually kind of offended by this characterization. For all you people out there picturing Florence Nightingale flitting from bed to bed in an immaculate white gown, dishing out compassion and curative therapies, get over it. That has no more to do with actual medicine than Chez Panisse has to do with Purina.

  3. HH Says:

    I think what you write here is RIVETING, and it’s too bad you can’t sell it to Slate or something like that. Somebody should be paying you for your insights and gritty realisms! Keep it coming!

    your ancient friend,
    Heather 😉

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