Saturday, August 01, 2009
Weight of the World
I went to the hospital this morning, but was tired and insecure through my shift. Other people seemed tired too -- we've had unrelenting heat here, which is wearing everyone down -- and, intellectually, I know I did good work. A patient about to be discharged for a minor medical matter confided in me about feeling suicidal, and I passed this along to the medical staff, with the upshot that the patient got necessary help and treatment. This is a great illustration of the principle that patients will tell chaplains things they won't tell doctors or nurses; it's also a reminder that one good visit can make an entire shift. And other patients I visited were grateful, and said so, so it should have felt like a very good shift.
Instead, it felt like a lousy shift. I chalked this up to fatigue and took a longish nap afterwards, but it didn't help much. I think I just heard too many awful stories today, stories about the worst the world can do to people, or that people can do to themselves and each other. There was good stuff too: cute babies, some very cheerful patients, laughter. But the grim stories are the ones weighing on me. I feel like I need a spiritual detox session.
I'll pray about all this, of course. I had a massage yesterday, and may try to get another next week. And we're going to a ooncert tonight, which will probably help. But still, I have images in my head right now that I know will haunt me for a long while.