We’re a profession that’s known for helping others and putting others before ourselves. We make difficult lifestyle choices, such as working long hours, carrying a pager around, being “on-call,” going to work on our days off to check on those special-needs patients. We’ve all done these things to varying degrees during our careers. These are the types of things that make people respect us, trust us, express gratitude for meeting them at the hospital at 3 AM, and say things like, “I wish you were my doctor.”
These same types of things are what make the members of our profession at a high risk for developing emotional burn out, mental stress, the so-called compassion fatigue syndrome—not to mention the feeling of chronic physical fatigue :). But, I digress, the point of this rambling is that although I’ve spent years in a “giving” profession, I was recently in a situation where the tables were reversed and others were giving to me. I came away from a bad situation with a renewed desire to continue to give to others.
Although I wish the situation, which was brought about by the remnants of Hurricane Ike as he barreled through the Midwest, had never happened, the outpouring of giving that I received from my co-workers, colleagues, friends, and family was very reassuring. On September 25, I still didn’t have electricity, but it was my first day back at work. I think I felt the same thing that our clients feel—that sense of respect and trust and gratitude. Even though I was emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted by the time the situation was over, I was less stressed than before.
Stress is a funny word. It has many different meanings and is interpreted differently by everyone. Something that is stressful to you may not bother me at all, and vice versa. Despite my complete and total exhaustion, I was less stressed. I was ready to get back into the profession of giving—low risk for compassion fatigue. I came away with a new respect, understanding, and appreciation for all of those clients who trust us to take care of their furry family members every day. It will be a long time, hopefully *never*, before I let loose a sigh when notified that I have all four exam rooms full and five people are waiting on the bench. I have a re-found appreciating for the joy of giving.