We spend our entire day caring for people, trying to save their lives.
When spend 26 hours at a time on our feet, looking after people during their illness.
When we go home after those 26 hours, our exhausted brains don’t stop thinking about the patients we saw during our shift. We continue to wonder if we truly did our best for every patient.
We listen quietly while people berate us for having to wait so long. Or swear at us. Or call us incompetent.
When we make a mistake, as humans do, it could cost someone their life. When we lose a patient we always wonder if it was our fault.
By our late twenties we have seen more dead bodies than most 80 year olds. We’ve not only seen them dead, but watched them die.
We have delivered babies, and we have declared babies dead.
Imagine having to tell a mother that their two year old will not turn three?
Imagine spending the last moments of a person’s life with them. Literally watching them take their last few breaths. And then imagine having to do it again a few days later.
Imagine having to tell a 26 year old – as old as you are – that she has breast cancer?
We see people from all walks of life and we see them at their most vulnerable. We treat their physical ailments, but a lot of the time we end up treating their psychological and spiritual ailments too.
We have philosophical discussions with hardened gangsters while we stitch 10cm gashes on their faces.
We have to examine victims of rape just hours after the fact, traumatizing them all over again. But we have to do it.
Sometimes we have to treat the rapist when his victim fought back. We have to suppress all our anger, as if we aren’t human. As if we don’t feel anything.
Imagine having to pull a 16 week fetus out of a woman’s uterus, with its tiny hands and feet, perfectly formed but lifeless, and then have to throw it in the bin.
Imagine looking out of a broken third floor window to see your patient lying on the cement in a pool of her own blood, with her intestines hanging out of her two day old Caesarian section wound.
We share our own personal experiences with patients, our griefs and our triumphs, our failures and our struggles, in an effort to relate.
We have to relive our own pain when we see our patients going through something similar.
We do our best. Sometimes we get tired. Sometimes we are impatient. Sometimes we make mistakes. We do our best. Junior doctors. We’re only human.