I'm still a holy mess of a hot wreck. I am still a convert into the Holy Grail of Le Petit Terreur (this is always my problem. I believe in the work these people do and happy to kill myself to try to make it come true because I want it so bad--for them, for me, for the people it could help. This is sooo pathetic)
I have been spending more time with patients lately (some of it TOO MUCH TIME because of the downtime clinic days makes with new protocols trying to work themselves through). And I feel like maybe that is the missing piece. The more time I get plugged into actual patients, the more time I feel good about my job--despite the hours.
Some of these people aren't even on my study yet (!!!) And here I am in the middle of their lives. And yet, it brings me such absolute peace and centering. This, I think, was the piece I was missing from research. I guess I've always been a nurse at heart. Decades ago I made the decision to myself that to be able to make a difference in ONE person's life, to be able to impact them in some small way--changed the world. I might not see it directly, but I could maybe affect it generations down the line. Cocky, perhaps. But I do believe that it takes just one person in just one moment to make some sort of ripple that affects other. It might not be a cascade, but it might help be a little nudge to help a cascade.
In research, I get to affect larger populations, certainly. A bigger push. I find that it is lacking some personal meaning for me. And my inexperience now in clinical trials has compounded that. (and when I worked in epi, I only worked with populations and not individuals so I didn't get that).
Lately I've been talking about volunteering in hospice again. Mostly due to a lot of dissatisfaction at work and needing to ground myself. I've always loved hospice. If I wouldn't have left St. Louis, I'd probably be in a much different place within the hospice world than I am now. I find true peace in that setting. I can be fully present in a a way that I have never been able to do anywhere else.
I yearn for working in a hospice setting because it is most likely the complete opposite of what I do now. This is no criticism of the doctors and system I work within. Their focus is saving lives, not having good deaths. It is a completely opposite modaility. One that I struggle with a lot and get angry with a lot. It isn't anyone's fault. It is just...well, is.
Anyways, I stray off topic. Lately I have been able to really connect with patients. And I know what my role is--it is to focus on the larger picture, not the individual. I have to care more about my data than an individual. And it is hard. I think it is something we all struggle against---what is good science vs. what is good for this person. It is often not the same thing. It is hard to split it out.
But regardless of what it is, I get to connect. I get to care for people in some small way that hopefully makes their lives easier. I get to be with people (and my job) in a way that actually fulfills ME. Every patient I encounter gives me something back, whether they want to or not. I just delight in the fact that I know they are on this spinning planet. If you have ever heard me, you know I delight even in my "problem people". They don't have to make me happy. They don't have to give a care for me. They just need to exist and maybe I just need to plug into them. I get fed just by being able to know them, to be a small vector in their lives to intersect. The smallest, most insignificant interactions feed me in a way that probably nobody else even processes.
But it is nice to connect with patients. And for some reason, just within the last few weeks, I have felt like I have made some breakthrough with the medical team I work most closely with. I've worked here for 8 months and only NOW do I feel like they take me seriously. I feel a lot more like we are collaboratively working together vs. me being some bumbling idiot who is just a jerk and making their lives more miserable. I wish I knew what it was that I did. Maybe I am just learning their language finally. Maybe they think I am less of an idiot? (or not). Most probably they know I'm not leaving so they just take pity on me. It doesn't matter. They do take pity on me and I do eat it up. Because I want to right by their patients and right by them and, hopefully, if nothing else--they at least see my earnestness in wanting to make a go of it for everyone with being as unobtrusive as possible to everyone.