I'm currently doing the dreaded stint as the chief resident in the burn unit. Its a particularly grueling rotation, lots of getting called in from home, crazy sick patients and lots of terribly sad stories. It is taking an emotional toll on me, and I've been missing out on seeing by little peanut. For the first time since I've come back from the lab I've gone two full days without seeing her. I have cried a record number of times after countless family meetings at the end of hours of doing everything we could. Thankfully, I've had a fabulous and amazing team of interns, nurses, chaplains, social workers and support staff to be on this journey with me. However, despite the support, the one thing I haven't managed to cope with very well is the non-accidental injuries.
I have always found child abuse unbelievable horrifying, but as a mom, my horror about this has reached new levels. In particular, a recent child I operated on, who is very similar in many ways to my own, has left me having nightmares every day in which I see her injuries on my precious daughter. I wake up gasping and anxious and immediately go hug my daughter or go to her room and stare at her while she sleeps. I've talked to other moms with similar experiences, a pregnant NICU fellow fighting the nightmares about her unborn child mirroring the illnesses she saw each day, the burn unit nurse manager who I sat and chatted with in her office about how this unit makes you so hypervigilant about protecting your kids, but the one thing we fail to come up with is a solution. How do you make the nightmares stop? I even talked to my own mom, who doesn't need to be in medicine to understand the disturbing fear a parent feels anytime they see another child harmed. (My mom is awesome by the way, just want to throw that out there because she is my greatest mentor as I navigate this crazy journey of motherhood!)
So, tomorrow I will go to the spa, and try and lose my thoughts and replace them with relaxing calm. I will continue to listen to my mindful meditation CD's as I drive home from a particularly horrifying day of work. I will continue to delight in my beautiful, amazing blessing of a child each moment I see her. And, I will pray for the beautiful children who have endured hurt and pain and pray that they someday receive the love they deserve.