Wow, what a night. I find that on-call shifts are so intense when they are busy. I had 10 pages between 4:30pm and 8:30 a.m., only to sleep between 6 and 8a.m. By the time I left, I was totally drained. I had 4 traumas, including two violent incidents, one which was quite disturbing. I had a tragic fetal death - my first infant death, which I have been dreading. The baby was so tiny - 2 lbs - and perfectly formed. It broke my heart and I was grateful that the mother was sedated - at least there was a short delay in her grief. She woke up briefly and asked, "Where?" and I filled with sorrow for her.
The NICU and trauma staff are amazing. I have found such wonderful relationships with the medical staff. The social work staff is a bit more ambiguous at times. Especially in the emergency department, I often feel unwelcome, or at the very least, drastically misunderstood. We are often seen as walking with death, something I don't feel at all. Often my role is to simply hold the energy in a space - to provide presence and silent affirmation of the important work and emotions at play there.
I also had 3 deaths, at which I sat with families, prayed, and even cried with them. I had a family member agonizing over treatment of their sick spouse.
"What should I do?" was the question of the night, straight from raw grief. "What comes next?" "This sucks." "How do I go on?"
I don't have good answers for these questions. I know that grief is overwhelming, that it can only be dealt with a day, an hour, a minute at a time. Sometimes it threatens to drown you.
On-call shifts leave me feeling vulnerable and raw myself. No sleep plus giving every ounce of my spirit to room after room - 20 patients and families in 24 hours - leaves me filled with gratitude for my own health, my family, and my inner resources. It also leaves me depleted and too tired to figure out how to do more than weep sometimes. I am generally good at leaving it at the hospital, but I agonized a bit this morning before finally falling asleep at home, safe in my own bed.
Even before the night, we had a long morning of reflection and mid-unit evaluations. It got a bit heated at the end, which was difficult for me to witness. But I continue to feel blessed at having a great group of interns to work with. It is easy to be authentic with them.
I'm useless today - worked online for a bit, ate some cereal, and am going to veg out with some 24 episodes. Self care after all, comes in many forms!