I had a particularly difficult shift tonight. Got home 2 hours late, laid down to close my eyes and found my mind racing. Got back up to try and work through this twisted, anxious, sad feeling in my gut. This is what came out.
One thing I have learned after 6 odd months on this job is that I hate seeing children in pain. Young, older, boy, girl- it doesn’t make a difference. When you enter an exam room, IV cart and syringes in hand, ready to get a line or inject an antibiotic or check a glucose- that look of fear and worry on their faces- it breaks me. I don’t have children, but my heart breaks all the same for the mothers, as they stoically hold their children down, tears rolling silently from their eyes, as they willingly subject their own flesh and blood to needles, to IVs, to pain, in order to get answers. It breaks all the same as the shy little toddler attempts to be “brave for mommy” and hold still as he’s approached by an alarmingly long needle that she knows will hurt her. 9 times out of 10 I leave the room holding back tears from my own eyes. It’s not fair, is it? They’re sick, and they came here for help, and we hurt them more. Of course it is so that we can help them. I know this. The logical part of my brain knows that a venous blood gas could forewarn of serious instability requiring intensive care treatment, and that a line of IV fluids can keep a child from dying of dehydration. I know that that little finger stick won’t hurt long, and will help us prevent a little boy’s blood sugar from dropping so low he has a seizure or going so high that it destroys his organs. But you can’t tell these things to a small child. I mean, you can, but they’re still frightened- wouldn’t you be? Wouldn’t you shriek and attempt to writhe away if strange people in strange clothing came towards you with strange, frightening things like masks and syringes? I stumbled upon this world of pediatric medicine because I wanted to reduce human suffering, at least as much as one sad little person can. I suppose I always knew in some capacity that my jo would entail hurting kids for a living to ultimately help them.
But you know what?
I hate it.
I hate it all the same.
I watched a lot of sweet, precious little ones cry tonight because of a line I was starting, or an order I placed. And I know that my actions helped them, in the long run. But those scared little faces, those little voices frantically telling Mom “ok, ok!” as they're told to brave and hold still - they break your heart anyways.