Monday, March 11, 2013


Some calls stand out.

It might be because of the patient's condition, or it might be that things went particularly well- or not well. It might be the weather, or who was there, or where it was, or almost any other detail. There's no question, some stay with us longer than others.

If the reason that the thought lingers is that it was an emotionally traumatic event, there are a variety of ways that people deal with that. There's even a process in place, to bring help to anyone who is having a hard time.

I've been doing this for a few years now, and have seen more than a few things that most people never see. I've had calls go extremely well, up there near the "miracle" category. And I've had some that didn't go well, necessitating much thought and re-assessment and some researching and pre-planning for the next time.

I've had calls that might make most people stressed out not cause me to be so, and I've had some that weren't particularly "bad" stay on my mind for a long time.

I get attached.

This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who knows me. I get emotionally attached to inanimate objects, like my car, or my computer, or the house I lived in as a child, so attachments to actual people isn't much of a stretch. Even if I don't know them.

Through all of this, I've learned what helps me process things, what helps me cope, what helps me stay human, without staying sad.

I recently had a call where the patient didn't make it.
It wasn't a surprise, given the situation at the time.
I would really like to have been able to do something more helpful, but it was not to be.

I read the obituaries every day.
Partly to see if anyone I know died, partly to notice the ages of the deceased, but also, to see if any of "my" patients are in there. Sometimes, we get called to a patient and we don't find out directly what happened, but they never go home again.

It is in those obituaries that I sometimes begin my healing process. I read about their lives, their families. Sometimes the things they have done, or the dreams they had. I see how they were- and are- loved.

I "get to know them," just a little. Enough to say goodbye, and to mourn them as a person. Enough to be sad for their passing, and to remember them.

And then, I can move on.

Goodbye, my short-term friend. May your smiles be remembered, and lighten the hearts of your family and friends.