just a breath

I feel a part of me inside withering and wilting, like a tulip that has lost its petals and is slowly drying up, bent over the vase edge gasping its last breaths. The hard pit in my stomach clenches and unfurls. I need a breath of fresh air.

Witnessing a man and his wife gape at the PET scan that highlights the incredible tumor burden along his entire spine. The disbelief in a young mother’s eyes as she is told that her husband has a lymphoma with a horrible prognosis leaving her with two kids alone. The frustration at the system that hinders aid to patients when the bottom line overrides all else. That vexation at the system then projects from attending physicians onto medical trainees who don’t deserve that kind of treatment. Mind numbing social and psychiatric issues plague the hospital wards, consuming energy that should be directed toward medical care. Drug seekers who ruin it for all patients who report pain, leaving providers jaded into believing that pain is not real. The endless piles of paperwork, hours typing notes rather than healing. The plight of knowing numbers and statistics of a person, rather than the contours of their face. Interminable hours that drain a soul of any ability to empathize or show compassion. This is what piled on top of me this week, burying me beneath negativity, muting out all light.

The burden moves across the boundary between work and home. My partner suffers, as there is literally nothing left to give once I stumble home. A measly hour before bed to discuss the happenings of the day, express love, and somehow prepare dinner all squished into a short 60 minutes. The lack of shared time leads to bickering, dominating our small window of togetherness with negativity. Everything compounds and creates a sense of claustrophobia, leaving me with the sensation of gasping for breath.

I had to take a moment to breathe this morning. I stepped out of the hospital for a short break, breathing in the fresh spring air on the back terrace. The stone terrace faces the rolling foothills with a row of blossoming pear trees lining the rim. The sun’s rays warmed my closed eyelids as the wind whipped the white blooms into the air, swirling up to the blue skies. The much needed tranquility cleansed my soul, allowing a few tears to escape down my cheeks. A small sense of release, pent up emotions flowing freely, a rare occasion. A moment to be still, take it all in, and let it all out. At last, I feel a sense of calm.

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