This can pretty much sum it up for me. As much as I'd like to take credit for this, I can't. It's extremely difficult to express the details of my job, but the person who wrote this excerpt does an amazing job. The poem is about the career of a pediatric respiratory therapist.
On Being a Pediatric Respiratory Therapist: I Wish I Knew How To Tell You...
I wish that when asked how my day was, I knew how to give a truthful
answer. I wish I could really express what a shift is like, and know I
would be understood.
If I really answered truthfully, I might
start off with how many times I saw a child smile. I might tell you
about the tears I wiped. I could tell stories about the kids I made
laugh. I could tell you about the kids I made cry.
I might tell you about the parents I consoled, reassured, encouraged.
I might tell you about the family that thanked me, and the family that pushed me away.
I might tell you how many times I grew frustrated. Or how many times I
felt annoyed. I might tell you about how many times I thought my
headache couldn't get any worse.
I might tell you how I taught a new RT, and how I learned from an old colleague.
Maybe I would tell you about the stickers I stuck, the pages I colored, and the toys played with to entertain.
I could tell you about the call bells that rang; the Vents that beeped;
the IPV’s that chugged, The Cough Assists that clicked.
I could tell you all about High EtCo2, the worrisome lung compliance, or the child who was fine, and then suddenly, wasn't.
I could tell you how many gloves I put on, airways I suctioned, and trachs that where changed.
I could tell you about the tricks I use to sneak in an assessment on a
three-year-old; the games we play so they will take their meds; and how
in order to auscultate a five-year-old's chest, I have to pretend I'm
listening for monsters.
If I were to tell you what my day was
like, I might tell you that my hands will always feel sticky from hand
sanitizer, and no matter how much I wash, "that smell" won't seem to go
I could tell you how funny it is to hear a two-year-old
say "stethoscope," and how heart breaking it is to hear a child whisper,
"I just want to go home."
I might tell you that today I heard a
child's first word. Or saw his first steps. Or watched a premie finish
her first whole bottle. I might tell you about the father who fed her,
who took this small victory as a sign of hope.
I might tell
you how the bravest person I know is an eight-year-old. Or the happiest
person I know is a two-year-old with a medical history as old as she is.
I might tell you about a moment of joy, shared with a family, a patient, a colleague.
I might tell you how many times I felt my heart break.
I can tell you about the steps I walked; the hands I held; the songs I sang to put them to sleep.
If I could really talk about how my day was, I might tell you about the
decisions I made. The priorities I set. Or about my "RT intuition" that
told me when I should start being concerned.
I could tell you
about the orders I questioned. The orders I should have questioned. The
split second decision I made. The carefully calculated words I chose.
I could tell you how I fought for my patient. I could tell you how my patient fought me.
I could talk about how I taught a parent to be the RT to their child that they never wanted to have to be.
I could tell you how that parent taught me about hope.
I could tell you about the moments of panic. The moments of empowered
confidence. How smoothly our team functioned. How resourceful we can be.
I'd want to tell you about the breaths we gave; the lives we saved; the lives we couldn't save.
I might share with you those moments when I just didn't know what to
say. Or the times I realized there was nothing I could say.
could tell you how often we see a child and family suffering and think
that maybe enough is enough. I could tell you about all the times we
think that everything will never be enough. I would struggle to tell you
how hard it is to say goodbye; I'd have a harder time telling you how
sometimes saying goodbye can be a relief.
I might tell you how many times I thought, "This isn't easy."
I could tell you how hard it is to be a pediatric respiratory therapist. I could tell you how rewarding it is.
I could talk about these things, if I thought I might be understood. Instead, I'll say, "It was good."