This may come as a surprise to you but for the first 16 years or so of my life, I wanted to be a veterinarian. I’ve always liked animals more than people. I feel like I relate to them much more.
Animals are genuine; you know where you stand. There is no gossiping or lying or cheating. And animals are always there when times are hard. They do not have other commitments or responsibilities keeping them away.
That being said, animals are also helpless. The vast majority of their injuries and illnesses are completely out of their control. They (usually) did not do anything wrong to get hit by a car or attacked or sick. People, however, are almost always to blame. People eat too much.
People drink and smoke and do drugs. People hurt other people on purpose. People are careless. People sit around and don’t exercise. People don’t take their meds or take care of themselves or go to the doctor.
I know these are blanket statements and NOT true for everyone (particularly when genetics play a role), but ultimately this explains why I decided to pursue people healthcare instead of animal healthcare.
Animals are oftentimes innocent bystanders who are victims of circumstance. I just don’t think my heart and emotions could handle it day after day. I’m sure I would go home and cry myself to sleep night after night. Whereas people are not usually innocent. They get in bad situations that cause illness or injury to themselves or others. It is much easier to distance yourself when the person is to blame.
That brings me to my next point. When you’re working in healthcare, you almost have to become a little callous and distant. Not to say you should be a jerk, but you have to put some space between yourself and the patients you are working with. Otherwise, you are going to drain yourself mentally and emotionally by caring too much.
Maybe it sounds a little backwards because we are in the business of caring. But think of it this way, if you allow yourself to get caught up in the emotions of every patient, you will not be able to focus on what is important – doing your job to the best of your ability. Your judgment will get clouded as you think of what you would do, rather than what the patient wants you to do. Your judgments will carry over to how you act and treat the patient. You need to look at everyone the same way, regardless of being a victim or not, innocent or not, insurance or not, young or not, healthy or not, and on and on.
I had a patient the other day that is a prime example of this. Young kid (under the legal age) who caused a car accident while twice the legal alcohol limit and high on marijuana. Luckily, the people in the other car were okay. This is not usually the case in situations such as these. The innocent are injured badly while the perpetrator walks away with minimal injuries. It’s actually because the alcohol and/or drugs relax your body so that you don’t tense up at the moment of impact. This allows your body to move freely with the impact, resulting in less injury. Sad but true.
Anyway, this kid was the worst off of everyone. He suffered a traumatic amputation of his arm. He was, of course, upset when we wheeled him into the OR, but what got me is how he was acting – like an innocent victim.
“Why me? Why did God do this to me? I didn’t do anything wrong.” Ummmm…. really?
Pretty sure God is not the one putting drinks in your hand or joints in your mouth. Pretty sure God didn’t put you in the car and turn the key. And God wasn’t the one who ran a red light and hit another car. The people who are the guiltiest often seem to think that they are the most innocent. It can be frustrating when people don’t take any responsibility for their actions, when those same actions have caused harm to themselves and others.
I am currently writing this as I sit on a plane taking me to my mission trip. These people are legitimately innocent. It is not their fault that they do not have access to health care or clean water or medications. Not to say they are doing everything right, but there are many things that we take for granted that they just don’t have access to. Not only do they desperately need our help but they are extremely grateful that we are providing it. It is going to be very humbling and eye opening. I am so excited for the opportunity to experience it!