The Job

I love my job.  I learn every day.  I help people learn every day.  I take great pleasure in both of those things and a lot of personal pride in it too because I think I’m pretty good at it.  Someone I am training told me that I created a wonderful and safe learning environment with the right mix of patience, knowledge, praise, and honesty.  It was an amazing compliment, but the pride I felt wasn’t that she had told me that.  It didn’t puff me up or make me feel special or validated.  It made me happy because that is exactly what my goals are in training someone, and I was thrilled to know that I had helped someone to feel that way.  I was far more happy for her, and that was very cool.

The flip side of my job is that sometimes I see patients who are gravely ill, patients who die, patients who were standing on the wrong corner when an out of control car came by, patients who woke up one morning with a headache and went to bed that night with a brain tumor.  They are old, they are young; they are mothers, fathers, babies, grandparents.  Some of them come with their entire family in tow.  Some come alone and leave alone, because they have no one to hold their hand.  Some come with the caregiver from the assisted/group/nursing/psychiatric home where they live.  Some have lost the ability to write their name.  Some don’t know their name.

I see a lot of patients who get better, thank God.  I work daily with miracle workers and life givers, people who, for whatever reason, have dedicated themselves to fighting an ultimately un-win-able war, one battle at a time:  We will all die.  These men and women go to work every day to put that day off a little longer for whomever they can or to give the days that are left some type of quality to the people they treat.  Sometimes they drive me crazy, sometimes I’m in awe, but most of the time, I feel like a member of that team and like I’m doing something that matters in someone’s life.

And then I meet the patient in her 50s who has decided, no  more.  She’s been sick a few years now.  She’s put multiple different poisons into her body to try to stop it, over and over and over again.  They’ve found something that seems to be helping, but it is making her even sicker, knocking her down, beating her.  And so it is that even in the face of potential promise, she says, Enough.  He tells her that he understands.  He tells her that, most likely, this will be it; the disease will rear up and take her … and she says okay.

Some days my job just reminds me how much I want to live.

About dyskinesia

Woman, mother, human being, grammarian. I have Attention Deficit Disorder. My child has Asperger syndrome. Philosophy, laughter, therapy, living. Life after divorce.
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8 Responses to The Job

  1. crisitunity says:

    My job is sometimes like this. Although I see ONLY sick people, so my job generally reminds me of how badly I want to remain whole and healthy.

    Great, thoughtful post.

    • dyskinesia says:

      Yeah, I think what you see in your job would be worse a lot of the time. I do at least get to see people get better quite often (and some miraculous saves at that).

    • dyskinesia says:

      Um, yes and no. My Old Lady (one of my favorite actresses ever, btw) had lived her life and said she was ready. I think my patient was ready to stop killing herself to try to live.

  2. Kimmothy says:

    I’ve always been envious of people like you, people who know they are in the exact right profession for themselves and can actually feel as if you contribute something tangible. But I know it also takes a special kind of strength to do what you do every day and I know I’m not nearly strong enough to witness the kind of stuff you see.

    • dyskinesia says:

      I tripped into my profession quite by accident and then ignored it for 8 years until I remembered that it really did seem like The Thing I wanted to do and that I would enjoy. Even though I’ve worked hard and sacrificed a lot to be where I am now, I still know that a bit of it was just plain old luck of the draw at a few different moments. It does feel like something I’ve done mostly right in my life though, which is saying something for me. I don’t have the strength to do what the actual providers do, but sometimes I feel like they come back and lean on me when they are finished, knowing that they can. That part is very rewarding for me. It isn’t inherent to the job though; there are a lot of people in my position who don’t feel the ‘specialness’ that I do. Like you said, I found a good match for me. Now if only I could find a way to do it without making all the sacrifices that I do, and making oodles of money, then hey, I’d be all set. 😉 I suppose, though, that in some ways, the sacrifices lend to the feeling that it is a privilege, which isn’t all bad.

  3. Kimmothy says:

    Aaaand, I just made the mistake of clicking the link in TB’s comment and watched an entire episode of Scrubs. Damn, do they say it better than I ever could.

    • dyskinesia says:

      Spent years sure that I would hate that show and wondering how in the world it could possibly last so long. Then I finally watched it and fell in love with it.

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