This week I was a psychiatrist. It was a hard week.
The 20 year old I've seen since she was 8 who has anxiety and body pains and always thinks she has cancer. And I'm the only person she'll see or talk to. Her mom says she's gonna keep coming to you until she's 26 because you're the only one she trusts and you always make her feel better.
The 10 year old who is really funny looking and has hearing loss and is legally blind and was tested for Downs Syndrome at birth because he was a funny looking newborn. This 10 yr old is one of 6 kids whose mom is funny looking too. They moved early this year to a new school district and now mom is being told he's way below grade level and they suspect he has learning disabilities and is socially atypical and all sorts of other stuff. Mom's mom is schizophrenic and her father is a drug addict and probably bipolar so she was raised by her grandmother who did not "believe" in psychiatric illness and certainly not psychiatric drugs. This badass survivor mom who is herself on multiple meds broke down and cried i think its my fault he's just like i was when i was a kid he's just like me i don't want him to be like me i did this to him i gave it to him
The 18 year old who's family I've known for 5 years and looks like they should be featured in Martha Stewart. She battles depression and anxiety which was a very hard pill for her tightly-wound-perfect-looking-truly-doing-her-best mom to swallow. She got drunk for the first time Thanksgiving night and was raped by a "friend". And I was the first person she told. She had no one else to talk to. She's afraid her father will ship her off somewhere because she got drunk. She says her mom just can't handle it. She says her sister was raped by her boyfriend's stepfather, but if she talks to her sister her mom is sure to find out. She feels so alone. I tested her and treated her and gave her some phone numbers. I told her to come back to see me next week.
my stomach hurts
On our lunch break, Dr. C. who's retiring and has only 14 more days of seeing patients she's counting down, is trying to track down a premie who has a lot of issues and has fallen off our radar. After many phone calls and many voice mails and disconnected numbers she turns and looks at me and says it's really serious what we do... i mean it's important... it's serious...
She says it like it's a revelation. Like it's just now hitting her after 26 years of practice.
Yeah. It is really serious. You can't think too much about it. Otherwise you can't do it.
She looked at me as though she'd been sucker-punched.
Yeah. You can't think about it.
Last night I worked with Dr. O, a pediatrician from Nigeria who teaches public health at Columbia and works with us on weekends to keep up his clinical skills. I was about to debrief to him cause that's what we do when patient shit is just too much to bear. We share the stories and it makes it easier to deal. Then I remembered the stories he's told about living and working in places where his wife and mother-in-law couldn't leave the house because outside their front door rape was used as a weapon of war.
As much as I've seen over 15 years, he's probably seen worse.
I decided not to share.
There but for the grace of god go I
All I could think was thank god for my kids. Thank god for my life. Not that we don't have our issues and not that we are immune to the super shitty shit life has to offer, but I think hope that when life hands them their shit serving they can come talk to me about it. And for now we are safe and warm and have food to eat. We are privileged. And hopefully it will stay that way.
As I write this I'm rubbing my eyes with both fists.
Ty gets worried mom what's wrong?
nothing honey my eyes have been itchy i saw a lot of kids with pinkeye this week i hope i didnt catch it.
mom, do you get pinkeye from farts?
no mom really it's a thing you get pinkeye if someone farts on your pillow and then you sleep on it.
well ty maybe if you pooped and wiped your butt with your hand instead of toilet paper then stuck your finger in your eye you might get pinkeye but no, pinkeye is not from farts. and why would someone fart on your pillow???
seriously mom it's true you can google it.
And he did
Thank God and The Universe for levity. Thank God for Ty.