(I am loving the comments that have been made on my last few posts – many more and I'll have to start a forum…)
There comes a time in the life of every emergency worker when they start to suspect that they have become a psychopath. You find yourself losing empathy for your patients, they become yet another body moving through the conveyor belt of treatment and audit. They become speed-bumps on the much more important task of meeting the targets set by our governmental over-masters.
(See, ORCON, 4 Hour A&E Breach targets, Caesarian birth targets, Police detection rates and whatever the fireservice are measured on).
You find yourself going home and not worrying about your patients – this is where TV dramas have it wrong, we don't tend to have nervous breakdowns, we just slowly become unfeeling bastards.
And then you get a job that nearly moves you to tears. And you hang onto it, because it reminds you that you are still human.
Mine was a lovely elderly lady. She's 93 years old, lives alone in her spotless flat and has no health problems to speak of. She often pops down the shops for her food, and yesterday was going to have a look to see if she could find a coat for winter.
We were called to her because she'd 'fallen over'.
What had actually happened was that some scummy bastard had mugged her – grabbing her handbag and knocked her to the ground. She's 93 years old, small enough to be put in your pocket and some 'man' had picked her as an easy target.
Luckily she wasn't seriously injured, but she was a bit shaken up. So we took her to hospital for a check up and, as I sit in the back of the ambulance talking to her, I'm having to fight back the tears that are making my eyes moist. I feel so sorry for her, I just want to snatch her up and give her a cuddle.
Then I want to hunt down the fucker that did this to her and remove his teeth one-by-one.
While I booked her into the hospital my crewmate made her a cup of tea, in the circumstances it's the best we could do. It's incredibly unlikely that the police will catch her attacker as she wasn't able to give a good description of the mugger.
She tells me that this is the second time she has been mugged, but “didn't want to make a fuss and get anyone in trouble”.
My feelings go between sadness for what has happened to this inoffensive, polite, lovely woman and utter burning hatred in my gut for the scum that did this.
I once went to a 'patient' that admitted mugging people to maintain her Temazepam habit, and I sat there listening to her as she made herself out to be a victim.
I suspect that I would not be so calm if I had to pick that patient up again. And yet we must, otherwise we would be 'in trouble'. We can't let our feelings affect the way we treat people. But just once in a while it would be nice.
And yet, as I type this, sad and angry, I'm thankful that at least I'm feeling something.