It was a "good" call, an unusual call that involved groups of rescuers working together to locate, treat, and remove a patient from a difficult-to-reach location. I came home still high-fiving myself for a job well done, and it wasn't until I was standing idly in front of an open refrigerator (the clock said it was breakfast time, but my body thought it was the night before) that I remembered - again - that my best days are predicated on terrible things happening to other people.
It's a sobering and unpleasant realization, and it comes at regular intervals. The "good" calls are anything but good days for the people I treat. As much as I might try to make the experience more tolerable (or survivable) for patients, I can't escape that ghoulish reality.
Rationalizations I have applied to address this cognitive dissonance:
- Bad things will happen to people regardless, and my involvement has no causative impact.
- There is nothing wrong with experiencing satisfaction at doing a good job helping people.
- I don't want bad things to happen to people, but I'd like to be there to help fix it when they do.
- I can channel my discomfort into more determination to be great at what I do.
- It isn't about how I feel. People need help sometimes, and someone has to be there.
But I don't want to sit around a firehouse all day, doing nothing. I want to be working. I look forward to the good calls. So am I wishing suffering on other people? There's this ugly edge to that thinking that I'll never be able to accept completely in myself.