It’s been a really rough couple of weeks.

First I had a young woman present with a devastating illness. Her family member is a colleague, and asked me to evaluate her at the end of a long, hectic, flu-filled night shift. The story was flu-like.

My patient said, “Doctor, I think I’m dying”. I laughed and reassured her, told her that she would no doubt improve. I told her, you are not dying.

Then I saw her results.

My heart fell into my stomach and I tried to justify what I was seeing: I couldn’t accept what it was.

A few days later, her follow up notes from the clinic showed cancer.

All I could do was cry and hug my kids close.

Next, illness in my family.

After that, illness in someone who is like family.

I’m struggling.

So having three random people gift me with unexpected hugs, on different days, over these last weeks has really been a life raft in an ocean of tears.

Thank you to my residents, Ortho and ER, for the first two warm and comforting hugs.

Thank you to a small, sweet little one today for that third and warmest hug of all, the hug of innocence and love. The hug of a child is the balm on my heart, it soothes and protects from the monstrous things I see every day.

Lying next to my daughter, holding my son in my lap, having my warm husband next to me each night, and parents and sisters nearby, all this sustains me. When the darkness encroaches, they light my path.

Medicine. It’s what I chose, and I wouldn’t go back. But for all the good I can do, all the people I can help, it’s the ones I can’t save that stay with me. I hope all this is worth it; sometimes I’m not sure my soul can take it.

I found myself wishing, praying for strength; this time, it came in unexpected, surprise, incandescent hugs.

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