The Ugly Side of Being a Doctor

The Ugly Side of Being a Doctor

I said something last week to a blogger friend. I was quick and brief and thought it was helpful. Well a caring friend of hers felt I was too harsh. She says:

I went over to visit Dr. Cason’s site and while I see a ton of information informing parents how to be a good, normal parent, I fail to see the part where she addresses anything that even comes close to what so many of us live with everyday.


It’s true. I try to be light. Life a bummer and sick kids are tough. I don’t dwell. But here’s the thing. I never forget. It might seem like I do, so I’ll let you know what I ruminate over in the quiet of the night.

Here’s the ugly side of being a doctor. The side I don’t talk about.

Warning some not so positive stuff about to unfold.

  1. I never wanted to be a doctor.
  2. I wanted to be a writer.
  3. But here I am.
  4. The buck stops with me.
  5. I’m in a war zone here.
  6. I’m not in the war.
  7. I just watch it.
  8. And try to stop it.
  9. There too many dead children on my mind and in my heart.
  10. You can delude yourself into thinking you are helping someone.
  11. That what you do actually matters.
  12. But the truth is.
  13. People live and die and life goes on.
  14. I was baptized in Medical School.
  15. I pray because it’s the only way I can stop crying.
  16. I go for runs and pray.
  17. I pray for the two month old dropped on her head.
  18. She herniated before my eyes.
  19. I pray for the  two year old who drowned in a neighbors pool.
  20. He came in on the same shift as the baby.
  21. We celebrated his 3rd birthday.
  22. And then disconnected his ventilator.
  23. His mother thanked me for crying. She said it was nice to see someone who cared.
  24. I pray for the baby found dead next to his sleeping mother.
  25. I stood poised with ET Tube as the ambulance approached.
  26. He was gone too long.
  27. I pray for the abandoned comatose girl in the PICU.
  28. I  gave her a sponge bath, combed her hair and put in little braids.
  29. The nurses wrote me up.
  30. It seems doctors aren’t usually that nice.
  31. I’ve cath’d babies, tapped them, intubated them and helped harvest their organs.
  32. I’ve watched a quivering heart be placed in a cooler and flown away.
  33. To help another life.
  34. I’ve called codes, ran codes and run to codes.
  35. All holding my pregnant belly as Gabby jostled around.
  36. I pray for the seven year that died within minutes of my exam.
  37. She was talking.
  38. I got her a glass of water.
  39. She was stable.
  40. She smiled.
  41. “I see colors” were her last words.
  42. I pray for the baby with the gray tummy.
  43. Perfect little peanut until I rolled him over.
  44. I pray for the 22 week old preemie.
  45. The parents begged me to save her.
  46. But I’m not God and I can’t grow lungs.
  47. I’ve struggled with my team to save a newborn
  48. When it was apparent that I COULD NOT DO ANYTHING
  49. I turned and RAN. Down the hall.
  50. That baby needed his mommy to hold him as he died.
  51. That Mommy needed to hold her baby as she said goodbye.
  52. I pray he found peace.
  53. And she too.
  54. I pray for the four year old I diagnosed with cancer.
  55. As his father clung to me he cried
  56. Please help us.
  57. I pray for the 5 year old immigrant who was rescued by his grandmother in TJ.
  58. Left alone for days then stolen by drug lords. Repetitively.
  59. He cried when I examined him.
  60. Afterwards I held him.
  61. Shhh Shhh Shhh I cooed . He felt like my sweet kids.
  62. He wouldn’t let me go.
  63. So I carried him from room to room.
  64. I pray for the 14 year old boy who cried in my office just last week.
  65. I knelt down and said I understood.
  66. But watching the war is not the same as being in the war.
  67. I’m in the war with my son.
  68. I pray for him repeatedly.
  69. I prayed when they scoped him, poked him, prodded and took his blood.
  70. I prayed when I heard those words- Immunodeficiency.
  71. Hmmm how interesting I might say any other time. But not this time.
  72. It’s not a book or a case
  73. It’s my son.
  74. I feel the desperation.
  75. He’s coughing now.
  76. I am a doctor.
  77. I owe a quarter of a million dollars in medical school loans.
  78. I fear my debt will outlive me.

So maybe I can’t come close to what other feel but I try. I know that as a doctor, I’m on the better end. I can’t even imagine the pain of those parents. But it doesn’t mean I don’t care or can’t relate. This is not a “job” for me. It’s my life. I’ve resuscitated babies in a Walmart and a pizza joint. I’ve run to  multiple car accidents and performed the Heimlich in restaurants. I answer  questions daily for readers, friends, neighbors and strangers. I keep a otoscope charged in my kitchen. I make house calls and advise friends. I have two websites. I make no money but dream of funding humanitarian missions. Because I have time and medical knowledge, I hope to use it well.

The ugly side of medicine it what it is. I didn’t even come close to all the other terrible crushing memories. Some are fading some not.  Don’t worry. I’m not crying right now.

  1. I’m happy.
  2. I like what I do.
  3. I can sleep at night.
  4. I took an oath and
  5. This is my calling.



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