One of those days

By: sonofabeach96

Oct 17 2015

Category: Uncategorized

81 Comments

I’m having one of those days today, where I feel helpless and that I’m really not making a difference.  I’m working today, as we rotate Saturdays.  Have 6 patients on my schedule, 3 of them new to me.  I must have “Tell me your story” written on my forehead, because my patients always seem to want to open up to me, with good and bad tales.  Today, the “bad” curtain is being pulled back.

I’ve had stories about absentee family members, grandchildren being placed with other family members because she can’t take care of herself, much less a 4 and 7 year old, and of having to live in a truck and bathe in a golf course pond for 6 months while fighting for disability approval, all the while losing everything.  I’ve been told of sudden-onset of debilitating symptoms when just a week ago they were independently living a normal life.  And I’ve been told of a mid-twenties young man now looking for long-term care placement because insurance is cutting him off due to lack of functional progress.

And that’s all before lunch.  And these folks look to me for answers and assistance, to help fix what’s broken.  Well, today, I don’t have those answers, I haven’t been able to fix what’s broken, and I don’t know what to say without sounding condescending or full of shit.

As I sit here, on my lunch break, alone in my car and debating my career choice and my relevance, I type these words.  I don’t have the answers to their questions about why, how, will I be able to, or where do I go.  I feel helpless and completely unable to be of any real assistance.  And I feel guilty for going home to a healthy, loving environment free of severity.  I struggle with understanding how some are so unfortunate, and, more so, with the inability to provide them with what they need.  I feel pedestrian at best, and useless at worst.  Damn, some days I really question my career choice.

Song of the day:

“Pedestrian At Best” by Courtney Barnett

81 comments on “One of those days”

  1. I’m realizing for the first time that I have no idea what you do for a living, so if what I have to say makes no sense, feel free to ignore it.

    I’ve spent most of my life in a weird middle ground between functionality and disability. Never fully capably, and yet never (well, a couple of times, probably) quite bad enough to be considered disabled. I’ve asked doctors, therapists, counselors, pastors, and God Himself for answers, for a why, for some piece of understanding to cling to to make it all worth while.

    Most had no answers for me. I don’t blame them for that. Asking why bad things happen to people is one of those philosophical questions that people have been trying (and failing) to adequately answer for thousands of years. It’s not at all your fault that you don’t have this “magic pill” equivalent of an answer.

    The fact that you care, that it hurts you that you can’t help these people… that kind of empathy is something that most people in rough situations really need. More than they need an answer as to why, even. They just want to know that someone else understands, even for a moment. And you give them that. Even if it doesn’t feel like it. Because you are empathetic, you do care, when most of the people they encounter never will.

    You’re a hero, regardless of what your job is. You can give people hope, even if it’s in the form of stumbling answers and a simple understanding of the pain they are in. If someone understands, then we are not alone. And if we aren’t alone, then there is hope. You give that. Don’t discount it.

    You’re a good man.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Oh honey! I feel your pain, and the pain that you’re feeling on behalf of those who you’re trying so valiantly to help. Being an empath is no small task. You have to find an outlet to purge yourself of the woes of others. You cannot hold onto all of that toxicity or it will drag you down into despair. Love, light, and healing sent your way. 💖💝

    Liked by 4 people

  3. It is sometimes such a gift to simply be heard. Thank you for being a person who listens.

    Liked by 6 people

  4. I work within the government agency and yes its sob story after sob story on the phone. But it’s like you said what can you do. One lady was crying on the phone, I don’t have a job and how do I pay my $7,000 credit card bill.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on Dream Big, Dream Often and commented:
    This is SonofaBeach96!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It must be very hard as a doctor. In the UK at least we have free health care.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I’d tell you not to feel guilty, but easier said than done, I know. But you didn’t cause their pain, and your happiness doesn’t contribute to their struggle. They’re two completely separate things.

    Your job is to help alleviate their pain, not to absorb it. You help them become better in their own skin by getting them stronger -not by giving them your strength.

    the days that feel thankless are likely the very ones in which you made a ton of difference.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Reblogged this on Michael's Origins and commented:
    Here is one that should be read to the last drop!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I know the feeling (in emergency services also). It reminds me to be Grateful of the Present moments.
    Thanks for sharing. Glad you are a gladiator in fixing what is broken.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. sorry for your bad day…..deep breath…you are making a difference, your listening, your there to help them get back to what ever baseline is for them….and you have that magnetic draw that people feel from you….believe me, they know you can’t solve all there problems, I am sure they are hoping but deep down they feel your compassion and love for the those in need…your a true nurturer, hard to embrace at times….but its still a gift and yes on some days its draining….but you have your wonderful family and safe place to retreat to….and no do not feel guilty for having that…you and your wife created that together, it wasn’t handed to you, you worked hard for it…no guilt….you can’s carry the burdens of others….yes its sad at where some people end up at and its not your fault that the countries medical, disability and social service system is in the crapper….your a good man….that’s the problem….sorry but that’s the truth…you care, you feel there pain and then you carry it….I feel for you….kat good snuggle with you sweetheart & kids will help…..kat

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Thank you for the insight into your job and what you deal with on a regular basis. I understand a lot more about the situation now. And everyone here (commenting) is right. You are a healer and people are drawn to you. And you are helping, every single one of them, every minute you spend listening and working with them. Even if you are feeling that all you can do is listen, most people just need that – an empathetic ear. Best wishes SOB.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I hope it’s good enough. I know I can’t “cure” them all, but some days it feels like I’m not helping in any way. Yesterday was one of those days. I’ve gotten a little more perspective after talking to my wife and you guys. Not the last time I’ll feel like that. But it’s all good. 😃

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am glad that you are feeling and sorry for the intrusion, but I need to ask: do you ever receive any thank you cards?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hey, no apology needed. Yeah, every now and then we’ll get a card or someone will bring in candy or something like that. Most we never hear from again…unless they return as a patient months or years later. We affectionately refer to them as “repeat offenders”. Some will come back for a visit as well. In general though, nope, just a “Thank you for your help” as they discharge. And that’s ok. My reward is them walking out.

        Liked by 1 person

      • We have a ‘shitty day’ box at work filled with all of our thank you cards. Helps me to look at them when I have a shitty day. I absolutely hate giving advice, but it might help in those moments when you are feeling the weight on you.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Not a bad idea. Really, now that I think about it, you’d think we’d get more thank you’d from people. It’s not really expected, from me at least, but people don’t really show us much appreciation, for the most part. That’s part of my problem I think. They expect us to have the answers and to “cure” them. When we do? Eh, that’s what was expected. The thing we do hear about is when it doesn’t go as expected.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s sad. Maybe they are so eager to leave their old selves behind that they forget about the people who helped them get better?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Not sure. Guess that’s possible.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m sorry you had a bad day. Just know that you’re doing a very important job!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Wow! That was just great. Reassuring words that tell me I’m not the only one (I work in the field of Psychology) who doesn’t have the answers either … even on a good day! Thanks for posting … lot of folks resonating here, would make an interesting topic for a book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading! Yeah, I would imagine working in psychology is harder still. Tough to not have the answers for people when they’re directly asking you. It’s humbling and, to a degree, embarrassing. I went to school for this, I should know, is the mindset. But sometimes, no matter the knowledge, I can’t fix it. To tell them that, it sucks. You can see them deflate.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I think I understand your feeling about going home to safety when you work with the wreckage our society leaves in people’s lives–as well as the wreckage that life leaves. But please, cut yourself some slack. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone else. Give yourself the kindness you’d give another person, if for no other reason than that it will let you go back in there and do what you can–which is never enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. You can’t change things for all these people. Most of them probably just just want to talk to an empathetic listener. Sometimes, that is a great help. Lots of people stumble upon an answer while talking, either something you say or something they realize on their own. You are doing a good job.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I am an RN and I think that you gave your patients exactly what they needed. Attention. A safe ear to vent to. Being sick and not in control of one life is pretty frightening. If you are in a hospital or healthcare facility, its even worse. You helped them feel better for the time you were with them. And it’s good that you went home to a safe and welcoming environment. A place where you can be nurtured. If you don’t do this, how can you be there for your patients when they need you.

    Marcey

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Very often, in life, the most useful/helpful thing a person can do is JUST LISTEN. I even remember an ex telling me “I have no idea what to tell you to do!” I said, you don’t have to say anything, just let me talk. Of course, by then, we were too far gone.
    My current husband and I often just listen to each other and to others. As a 30 years middle school teacher, people often ask him for advice about how to deal with their kids. He doesn’t feel right telling them what they should do, mainly because he never had kids (neither did I). But I often give advice and then it irks me that they didn’t even try to heed my advice.
    One friend’s son is in prison now. I am pretty sure if she had taken my advice, he would’t have ended up there.
    So, you see, giving advice is not always the best answer. Just saying things like “I hear ya!”, “Ain’t that the truth” & other answers that show you’re listening is probably the best thing you can do. We figure out answers to our own problems just by putting them into words.
    And that way, you don’t have to be angry at half the people you know because they “never listened to a damned thing” you said!
    Peace,
    Sherrie
    Sherrie Miranda’s historically based, coming of age, Adventure novel “Secrets & Lies in El Salvador” is about an American girl in war-torn El Salvador:
    http://tinyurl.com/klxbt4y
    Her husband made a video for her novel. He wrote the song too:

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I’m just in my second year in med school and sometimes when a patient’s mother grabs my coat and asks me what her 3 year old son had done to deserve such a terrible disease and why we weren’t helping, I feel utterly useless. All I’m supposed to do is follow the main doctors around and just take hold of the little steps and it feels so..little. If I as a student who isn’t even directly involved feel this way, I can’t even begin to imagine how you as a therapist would feel. Hope you have better days soon! :*

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s tough some days, I can’t lie. And as you become the doctor to them, there’ll be days you have to tell someone there’s nothing more you can do for them. It’s just hard. Some learn to handle it, others don’t. My best friend is, or was actually, an ER doc. He lost his share of patients of course. Telling their families they didn’t make it was too much for him after a while. He works in an Immediate Care Center now. Try to mentally prepare yourself now. We can’t fix everything, even though we, and our patients, want to. 😕

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I so know about those days. I hope you recover and get your energy back. Made you a drawing! Your post created an image in my head. Thank you. Your misery was my luck, now I feel bad!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I bet your patients would be outraged if you weren’t around for your care. As many already have said, just a sympathetic ear is all one needs at times. Your life may not be full of severity but you’ve had your share of ups and downs and have paid whatever price you’ve needed to for it. And you don’t ever seem to take for granted what you have. Continue your good work. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person


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