I have been a medical social worker, in a large metropolitan county hospital, for about two years now. I have come to believe I have a rather bipolar relationship with my job. There are periods I go through in which I absolutely love what I do, and then there are other times when I play scenes in my mind of turning in my letter of resignation to my boss and saying #%@! it all. I don’t know if it’s being a social worker, or more specifically being a medical social worker, but sometimes I find some of what we do to be a little traumatic and I guess it is at those moments when the thoughts of “moving on” – or at least taking a vacation - come to mind.
Lately, I often find myself thinking of death. Don’t worry, not in that way. But, more so, in a somewhat traumatized manner. In my job, I work with a lot of trauma patients and a lot of patients whom are just really, really sick. I see people come in after car accidents who have become paralyzed, either partially or fully. One can see the worst of brain injuries from the craziest, or even simplest, of accidents. There are some people who come in with infections and end up getting an amputation of some sort. Then, there are those whom are actively dying of a terminal illness such as cancer or HIV whom we must speak w/ the person or their family about end of life choices. Your heart goes out to all these people. It can be a lot to take in sometimes.
To elaborate on things, I suppose this experience has made me a little more aware of just how fragile life and this capsule – called the human body – really is. I’m now a little more careful day to day and a lot more afraid each day of losing someone I love. With myself, for instance, I try to be a more vigilant driver. Also, a while back I nearly slipped and fell backwards on this disgusting puddle of sludge on the sidewalk in front of my condo. The next day, I called the office and spoke with the property manager and asked them to please clean up the sludge as it was an accident waiting to happen (in my mind I was thinking it was a traumatic brain injury waiting to happen, but I left out all that technical jargon when speaking w/ the property manager). They cleaned it up that day. A few years ago, I probably would have never said anything about it.
The other day, I recalled a conversation in my mind from several months ago that I had with a nurse that I work with who is about my age. She asked me if I was married (she herself is married) and I told her no. She asked if I were dating and I again said no. Then I told her I really don’t see myself as ever getting married. With a look of astonishment, she said something like, “Holly, you have to get married! You see the people who come into this hospital with no spouses, etc. They are alone and have nobody. You don’t want to end up like that.” I didn’t say much at the time but it did make me feel a little down at the time. I suppose I could get involved in a relationship just for the sake of getting involved and having someone there for me and showing the world that I am in their eyes “normal,” but I don’t want that, at least not now. For now, I am the patient with no spouse and no kids – and I am okay with that, today anyway.
I’m not real sure why I’ve written this blog tonight. I suppose, maybe just to get some things off my mind. My aunt has been in the hospital for a really long time now following a stroke. I have not gone to see her ever since the stroke and she has been in a hospital that is literally only a few minutes from where I work. Today I was told they are talking about putting her on hospice as she now has heart failure. I haven’t been to visit her all this time because, I think, in my mind I feel like maybe she will get better and then maybe I won’t have to deal with a tragedy in my personal life like I do day in and day out, Mondays through Fridays, at my job. Selfish, I know. Life just isn’t very simple.
Maybe I’ll go see her this week…