Saturday, February 27, 2010

Patients Who Break My Heart

I'm having a lot of these recently. A lot of late-state Multiple Sclerosis patients. One who is clinging on to indepedent living by a thread, and I don't know how much longer he can do it. And one who is so involved I am teaching her how to use a mouth stick. At home, she spends her days in bed. And a stroke patient whose vision is so affected that, while he might be able to go back to work eventually, he'll probably never drive again. And he lives alone. Lots of changes are going to have to happen in his life.

I am biased. When someone is approximately my age, it affects me more. I remember my first ICU evaluation. It was a woman with a devastating stroke, who was exactly my age. People my age aren't even supposed to have strokes! Or so I thought, before I went into this field. I had tears in my eyes as I did the eval, and hoped no one noticed. But she did amazingly well in rehab. The arm never came back, but she is walking and back at home with her kids and out in the community.

Working in this field grounds me. I often say that if I was a wedding planner, if I worked with happy people all day, I'd have to shoot myself! Instead, I am reminded daily that I have no monopoly on sufferring or difficulty. I can't feel too sorry for myself- although I have moments when I still manage to, but not many. Everyone has their own story, their own trials, their own battles, their own joys.

And I am inspired daily to see patients who manage to have good and productive lives despite considerable disability. I am constantly amazed to see how two people with the same level of physical disability live completely different lives, have different levels of handicap. There is a concept called "resiliance" that is being talked about a lot recently. How well you adapt and respond to adversity.

I think that depression is the opposite of resiliance.


otgirl said...

I really like this post. I have those same feelings sometimes. About people my age, about resilience, about getting perspective and being grounded because of what we see every day. I like what you said about "depression is the opposite of resilience".

For me it's a small but true consolation that my job allows me to be present for people in the midst of that suffereing/challenge/whatever.

Anonymous said...

Many thanks.