Seeing someone suffering and being unable to do anything always leaves a heavy feeling in my chest.
In my line of work, after a while, you learn to be desensitized to what’s happening to your patient. You learn to distance yourself not because you do not care, but because you need to always be objective. Emotions can cloud important judgement calls. When a patient turns for worse, you need to be able to think on your feet, anticipate what’s going to happen and adopt as fast as you can to incoming orders from doctors while maintaining your cool, working as efficiently and effectively as you can. After a few years, I can say that I can do all that, be level-headed amidst the stress. I could deal with that kind of chaos. But not the other type.
Being left at the bedside, comforting my patient and her family while waiting for the transfer ambulance was far more drainig than running up and down to get supplies from the pharmacy during a code. Seeing her detetiorate with each passing second, and not be able to do anything but hold her hand, tell her to try to breathe deeply was not how I would have wanted to do my job. Her husband going on a personal pep-talk was too painful to hear. I know deep down that we really can’t do anything for her at the moment. That what she really need can only be possible when she’s transferred. But it does not stop me from asking, “have we really done everything?”, “can we not make her more comfortable even for just a while?”. She looked like a wiltering candle in front of me.
When the ambulance arrieved to pick her up for transfer, I sent a silent prayer to ask that she recover from all of this. Because at the end of the day, no matter how tough this job is, how emotionally draining it is, seeing them go out and continue their paused life was all that matters.