All Cute And Fluffy Things Must Die

That’s how I feel. This week I am in Palliative Care, and maybe it’s some sort of reactive stress, but I’ve temporarily lost my tolerance for naïvete in medical students.

Not that I wish to kill the cute fluffy things, I just get that they are mortal like the rest of us. We are all going to die: it is just a question of how and when.

And fine, be sad. It is sad. But the guy you just watched while he was told his cancer can’t be cured? He’s not your father or your husband, he’s not your son, he’s not even your neighbour, or the guy who drives the bus you take to school. It is not your story.

It is not your story. You are nothing more than a bystander, maybe not even that. One day it will be your job to influence the when and how, but even then, it won’t be your story.

We need to learn to move between the stories without becoming a part of them. Our role is to give each patient appropriate care while maintaining our own wellbeing.

My loss of tolerance is temporary, and I won’t be popping any kids’ balloons. I’m grumpy today, but I haven’t lost my empathy, and I know that we are all learning about these things at our own pace.

However, it remains the case that if I had a giant rainbow lollipop it would be difficult to stop me from bopping people over the head with it.


1 Comment

Filed under Med School

One response to “All Cute And Fluffy Things Must Die

  1. This is so true. If you enter the story too much, you lose the ability to function, and losing your capacity to help these people in their tragedy is self-indulgent and pointless.
    There is a big difference between empathy and sympathy.

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