Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Secrets That You Keep

As a Healthcare worker, there is a certain code that I and every one of my colleagues must follow. HIPAA laws require that we keep patient information private and secure.

It would be foolish to say that we don't talk about some of what we encounter on a daily basis, especially the weird stuff, but by not disclosing the names or other personal information of the patients somehow makes it feel alright.

Talking it out helps to diffuse difficult situations, make sense of the tragic cases and at times just plain makes for good comedy.

No matter how we dissect it with our laymen friends and family, they will never truly know the sum of all the parts. There are some visions and emotions that can't be seen or felt unless you were there.

Standing in the trauma bay over a body who you've preformed countless cycles of CPR on when the time of death has been called by the physician, holding your tongue around the mother and father who have brought their child in, knowing all along that it was them that caused the physical harm, talking with a patient just moments before they "crash," watching the pain in a loved ones eyes as they uphold the patient's "Do Not Resuscitate" wishes, watching helplessly as blood pours from a self inflicted gunshot wound to the head of an adolescent.

Every day brings a new experience and every day I am witness to privileged information. Images and feelings that will stay with me forever.

These are the secrets that we keep.

It is easy for me to understand how many in the profession become jaded and detached from the emotional aspect of the job. In a way I am almost envious.

I lack that ability.

There are mornings that I get into my car after a 12 hour night shift and cry all the way home. There are times that I can't sleep because of the emotional beat down I have taken. There are times when a traumatic event randomly pops into my mind, usually at the most inconvenient of times.

It is painful and messy and dysfunctional, but in the end I wouldn't want it any other way. We feel the bad times in order to truly appreciate the good ones, at least that is how things work in my mind.

Some say that people get into healthcare because they have an inherent need to fix others because we lack something inside to fix ourselves.

It is like giving out great advice without actually taking it.

Lord knows I ain't perfect. I could easily define myself as a real fixer-upper, but knowing that I can contribute to the healing process of someone else is a true gift.

I knew what I was getting myself in to when I signed up, it can be brutal. I can't tell you how many times people have said to me, "It takes a special person to do what you do" or  "There is no way I could do your job."

It reminds me that I am one of those "special" people who can.

So I will continue to keep those secrets, revealing only tiny bits and pieces of them in an effort to maintain my own piece of mind. I will continue to hope for the best while accepting the worst, knowing that reward is out there in the smile of those I have helped along the way.

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