October 17, 2015
It's 4:33 am. The constant barrage of patients streaming into triage all night has abated. My back is fried and I know I will pay for it. But underneath lies a sense of pride in doing a job well done. With every shift I gain in knowledge and experience. The patients are well cared for and I continue to grow. It seems worth the sacrifice. I lie down on one of the triage beds in a room hardly ever used. I intend to go to sleep for an hour or two. But the adrenaline that carried me for 11 straight hours is now depleted and the pain starts to resurface. I lie in the bed on my left side. My lower left lumbar cries out after just a few minutes. I flip over to my right side as lying on my back is a nonstarter. The right shoulder complains just as loudly, the result of a spinal defect combined combined with a football injury decades ago which has left me with a built in barometer. Sleep is not going to happen. I pull out my iPad and bring up Netflix intending on using that age old tested method for treating pain called Diversion. Ten minutes into it, I'm restless and cannot get comfortable. I try getting back up to walk it off. It works for about 60 seconds before the fatigue that caused the pain returns. I lie back down and try meditating. I struggle to control my breath and focus on it instead of the physical pain. I lie there in the dark and the thought arises in my head, "This is what hell must be like. Or, at least some version of hell. To be trapped in one's own body and unable to escape the pain signals it is creating. The pride is long gone and all that is left is physical pain."