Lately, I’ve been feeling myself becoming more and more burned (or burnt, whatever) out. And I don’t like it. I love this job. I love taking care of people.
But sometimes I feel as if I have an unrequited love.
When I first started in EMS, everything was new and fresh and exciting. It was easy to get excited about the calls that didn’t need excitation, and very easy to get too excited at times.
Now, after seeing hundreds of people who are simply seeking drugs, I’m cynical. I don’t want to be cynical, and I want to take care of my patients appropriately, but something is happening to me that I don’t understand.
Yesterday, I picked up this middle-aged lady, who I have picked up several times before. Her complaint? Chest pain. Every time. She says she has 14 stents, and has had 7 or 8 heart attacks. “I stopped counting after five,” she says. She then tells you that she has to go to the University Hospital, 30 minutes away, not one of the 7 (seriously, seven) other hospitals that are just as capable as the University one.
It gets better.
She’s allergic to nitroglycerin. And aspirin. And literally almost everything else you can think of. The list is incredibly ridiculous. Then she says she can’t have a heart cath done, because her doctor says if she gets put to sleep, she might die. Never mind that they don’t actually put people to sleep for heart caths, she says she can’t have one. “So what does the hospital do for you, if they can’t really do anything for you?” is the next question that probably every other paramedic would ask. And it is a legitimate question.
“They give me painkillers.”
Well, there you have it. She wants painkillers. The cynical medic in my says “fine, you want me to drive 30 minutes, past 7 hospitals, just so you can get some meds? Then I’m going to sit behind you and not do a damned thing. But I don’t want to be that medic.
Is she really a drug seeker who is simply wasting everyone’s time? Maybe. Is she having a legitimate event, and in actual need of narcotic analgesia? Maybe. If she was really a drug seeker, wouldn’t she want to go to the closer hospital so she can get her drug? Maybe. Does anyone benefit from a cynical, burned-out medic with a bad attitude?
I started typing this about an hour ago, then took a break to take a walk.
And I don’t take walks.
I don’t know what I’m trying to say here, and how to say it. I don’t know what the problem is, or what went wrong, or when it went wrong, for that matter.
But something is wrong, and I don’t like it.
I miss the old medic I used to be.