Gratitude & Grit

I am a resident in the midst of my surgical ICU rotation. The rotation is anything but a walk in the park. I’ve been getting crushed. I've been coming in early at 3 am to make sure that my patients are getting the attention they deserve and that everything is teed up for rounds. I was tired of getting lit up at rounds so I was motivated to make sure I was polished even at the expense of my overall well being.

After getting rocked with 120 hour work weeks I started noticing how the once beautiful landscape of my residency was turning into a toxic sludge. Everyone around me was becoming more and more angry. Common courtesy was no longer necessary. It was all about eat or be eaten. And the more I thought about this rotation the more I started hearing all the complaints. “I can’t believe how hard this rotation is.” “This is no way to live.” “This is the worst.”

Every time a resident would get another patient, or a consult was made by the ER, the automatic response was to figure out how to block the admission or how to divert work to another person. That desire to want to help a patient or to be inspired by learning medicine had been beaten out of us. How could this have happened? We all came in so bright eyed and bushy tailed.

I stood there looking at my patient in front of me. A young woman who had been in a terrible car accident. She was intubated with lines and tubes everywhere. Her entire life was just shattered. Her hopes of having a normal life have been irreversibly changed in a moment. She will spend the rest of her life fighting the effects of this horrific accident. At that moment the gravity of my clouded mindset became apparent.

I thought to myself:

So you are tired and have to work hard to do something you wanted to do. No one held a gun to your head and made you sign on that dotted line. So you know what, go fuck yourself. You should walk in here everyday being happy and feeling lucky...LUCKY that you have the opportunity and good fortune to be doing this. You keep doing what’s right for your patients. Don’t become nasty. Don’t change who you are when you are so lucky as to not be in that hospital bed. Be courteous to your colleagues and everyone around you. And worst of all don’t complain because just like Lil Jon poetically said, “Only bitches talk shit.”

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