I have one more week and then this rotation will be in the books. As these past several weeks have gone by I’ve found myself discouraged. I know that hospitals are necessary, I know that many medicines are necessary as well. I know people get sick and people die. But. But how can I help? What difference can I make? Any at all?? I wonder how these became so sick? What happened? Some of them seem like they just don’t care anymore. When did they give up? When did they lose hope?
And then… am I being overly critical? Am I really any better? Sure, I’m healthy, for now. Sure, I think I have my act together. But really? Three years ago? Four or Five? Did I have my act together then? Not really. I had some who would ask me why I put up with so much? Why did I stay for so long? Why didn’t I leave when things went bad? I’ve been asked why didn’t I change things back then? Why?? Why did I stay 25 years with a man who couldn’t love me?… these questions are kind of like asking someone why do you bother breathing? Why do you bother eating? There’s no real answer except it seemed the right thing to do at the time… (Please don’t stop breathing or eating, by the way.)
So, an outsider, someone who hadn’t lived in my shoes, who hadn’t any way to compare her life to mine, would probably wonder why I didn’t change for so long. I wish I had an answer. I wish I did. If I did then maybe I could help another lady find the answer too. I know, in part, some of the reasons. For one, I loved him despite everything. For two, I had hope for things to get better. (It wasn’t until I gave up hope that things started to change.) Three, I felt like it was wrong to leave… no… matter… what. The church is very vocal about leaving a marriage. (And because of that, many, many women are still in abusive marriages, with no hope for a way out, thinking that somehow they can pray their husbands to treat them well… But that’s another post.)
And so I think of the patients I have met these past two months… Did they decide to quit? Or give up? Is it too hard to dream of better things again? Does it hurt too much and they just want it all to end? I see the man or woman who is my own age and at the same time I see them as they may have been as a healthy child… or if not a healthy child, as a child with hopes and dreams, none the less. I guess, the hardest thing, is seeing each individual as a person, a creation of God, who, for some reason or another finds himself or herself in a lonely hospital bed staring at the ceiling with wires and tubes attached everywhere wondering what on earth to do next. I wish I could show them a picture of themselves when life was good and full of possibilities and dreams, so that I could remind them that they don’t have to give up. I want to remind them that they are worth the effort of getting well. I want to be able to sit with them and listen to them and to give them hope again.
How? As a student I have no power, and I have no permission to just talk to them. So, with determination, I move on, and I continue to dream. Partly to dream of the day when I am no longer the pee-on that I am and am able to do exactly that. Until then, I offer them a smile, a soft touch, or a gentle ear when I can.
thank you for reading,