I started off life as a journalist. Writing about what happened to other people. Taking photos of happened to other people. And, thinking about the stories that I would one day write about the fictional lives of other people.
When I decided to become a doctor, I didn't realize the extent to which I would become a part of people's lives. Sure, I imagined a myriad of scenarios in which I would be the one who stepped in and saved the day. Ticker tape parades and newspaper headlines all around. But, as an ED doc, you're often in the background. You don't get the chocolates and muffin baskets. You make the diagnosis, but someone else steps in and finishes the job.
But there are some days when you're front and center. When despite everything you do, the heart doesn't start beating again. When the lungs won't take another breath unassisted. When the bleeding can't be stopped. When you have to tell a family that "despite our best efforts, I'm sorry but your loved one died."
And, sometimes, surprisingly, on a day like today, when you lose a patient so unexpectedly, you find yourself again in the midst of someone else's experience... but this time, one of pure joy... the birth of a new baby. I didn't know this morning when I headed into work that I would watch one person take their last breath on Earth and then just a few short hours later watch another take their first breath. In both cases there was a lot of hand holding. A lot of encouragement for peace on their journey. And, a few tears.
You don't cry then. You're the professional. The one with all the strength. Your tears come later, when you're walking to your car at the end of the shift. When you finally let the emotions of the day come out. When you sit down to write about what just happened to other people.