I remember the time when work was full of wonder.
Every day was amazing.
I woke up each morning with a spring in my step, so excited for what the day would bring.
Where did all the joy go?
Why is it hard to access the happy in my days? It can’t be for lack of it; I know I smile and laugh at work. Could it be because work is too hard? Unlikely – I don’t find it hard at all.
The joy is lost, because these days work feels like someone else is running the show. It’s all about seeing as many patients as I can, using as few system resources as I can, making sure to press all the buttons and do everything right.
This is not why I became an emergency physician.
I became a doctor in order to help people who are hurting. These days I feel like often my patients are secondary – they are just cogs in a wheel.
How can I find that joy again?
Only from my patients.
Sometimes, on a night shift when the rest of the world is sleeping, I sit on the side of my patient’s bed and really listen to their story. When I do this, I can feel that wheel inching to a stop. It’s like a ship, straining at anchor, and I just have to strain back. I sit, I listen, and I allow myself to feel some joy. The joy of being a good person, a good doctor.
But then – the wheel turns again and the joy fades away.