My Job Makes Me a Bad Person

In the past when I’ve mentioned my job here I’ve gotten lots of kind comments about how great my hospital is (and by extension, I am) and I’d love to let you all continue to believe that.  But it’s not true.

Take your work for example.  Now I know that most of you are stay at home moms.  But I also know that that is still work (in fact, it’s a heck of a lot harder than the stuff they pay me for).  So you’re at home and you’re moming and you think that there’s a chance that your kid might be getting sick.  Now, we’re going to take emotion out of it, I know you love your kid and you don’t want them to be sick because you love them, but we’re not talking about that here.  You don’t want your kid to be sick because that makes a lot more work for you.  So their not being sick is good for you but if it works out the way you want it to that’s good for them too.

And if your kid is going to get sick, you’d prefer it happen during the day.  Who wants to have to stay up all night with a sick kid?  But that doesn’t hurt the kid.

And if your kid does get sick and starts puking you want them to hit the toilet rather than the floor.  It doesn’t hurt them one bit (although it doesn’t really help either) but it’s less work for you.  It’s ok, you can admit it.

But then there’s me.  To begin with I’m right there with you.  I’d prefer that no kids got sick ever. (Although that does bring up some job security issues.)  But after that, I’m a horrible person.

I work two night shifts a week, as I’ve had occasion to mention before that I’d prefer to not actually work while I’m at work so if a resident calls at midnight to tell us that there’s a kids with appendicitis in the ER it’s entirely possible that I’m going to encourage them to wait until the morning, the actual morning, to take out the appy.  That means that that poor kid will sit there, in pain, for an extra few hours.  I know this and sometimes it even makes me not try to get them to put the case off.  But I always want them to.

I get worse.

I’m on the transplant team at my hospital.  This means that every Monday and one weekend a month I’m on call and if we have a liver transplant I have to do it.  Putting in a liver takes a LONG, LONG time, a sometimes 12+ hours kind of long time.  So when they call me to tell me that we have a possible liver (all livers are only possible livers until the recovery team [don’t think too much about that] gets in there and sees the “new” liver to see if it’s going to be any good) I find myself hoping that the new liver won’t be any good and that we’ll all get to go home.

THAT’S AWFUL!!  We’re not just putting that case off, we’re canceling it which means that that poor kid is going to sit around with liver failure some more just waiting for a new liver.  Do I need to mention here how many people die waiting for transplants?

Now that you’re thoroughly disgusted with me, let me make it clear that while yes, I do encourage the resident to put the appendectomy off until I’m not working the next day, the resident doesn’t actually get to decide that, the attending does and they’re never going to put it off to convienience me.


16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. debbie
    Jan 22, 2009 @ 07:04:00

    I think you may be the most honest person I have met in a long time! You’re not bad. Like you said, we all do this in different ways.

  2. Kristina
    Jan 22, 2009 @ 08:48:15

    I agree with Debbie. I think you are a good person, with a good heart, and a very honest blog.

  3. robyn
    Jan 22, 2009 @ 08:54:00

    Wow, makes my wishing everyone would just go to freaking starbucks for a frappuccino look a whole lot better. 😉

    I spend my days (at work) hoping we obliterate our daily goal, all without the customers to make them.

  4. LisAway
    Jan 22, 2009 @ 11:03:33

    Oh come ON. It’s not your JOB that makes you a bad person, Alison. Look at you playing the blame game. 🙂

    As has been stated, we all do this about some things, just not usually when someone’s life is (or could be) at stake. So nevermind. I guess it IS your job’s fault.

  5. bythelbs
    Jan 22, 2009 @ 11:47:18

    Duh, just wish that the patient makes a miraculous recover and doesn’t need the liver after all, not that it’s no good. Then you get to skip the transplant ordeal and make the patient better all at once. See how this works?

    Also, there’s a big difference between wishing for less work and refusing to do it. I would bet you’re good at your job and always do what you have to do when it comes down to it even if you’d rather not. That’s just life.

  6. madhousewife
    Jan 22, 2009 @ 12:42:32

    What bythelbs said. Yeah, this blog is making me a worse person, too lazy to write my own comments.

    Good is what you do, not what you think. Certainly not how you feel, or we’re all screwed. Well, I am.

  7. Julie
    Jan 22, 2009 @ 12:43:46

    Kids get me sick at the clinic. That makes me upset, and I want to kill them. Does that make me a bad person? No. You’re not either. please.

  8. Diary
    Jan 22, 2009 @ 13:00:32

    Super honest. We are all lazy in our own right, and for someone who works as hard as you do, give yourself a break for wanting things to just be easier sometimes.

  9. the letter Bee
    Jan 22, 2009 @ 14:07:01

    Pretty cool. I like your honesty.

    Which hospital do you work at again? ;p

  10. Catherine
    Jan 22, 2009 @ 14:33:30

    Good to know.

  11. Olivia Votaw
    Jan 22, 2009 @ 18:52:16

    Maybe it’s time to consider a new line of work. It doesn’t sound like your job makes you feel happy or fulfilled. Life is too short to toil away at something that just pays the bills and fills your thoughts with guilt. You’re much too smart not to do what you REALLY want (write books?). Girl, if writing is your passion, then do whatever it takes to make it bear the fruit you want it to and stop wishing that new livers won’t be any good!

    Take this from someone who was getting paid nearly 50K (without a degree or experience) to make sure that the hospital I was working at was clean. I had the most kick-back boss ever (second only to CJ, of course) and I had a hard-working assistant that worked circles around me. Then one day, I just couldn’t look at another toilet without thinking that this was not the way I wanted to spend 10 hours a day of my life for the next 40 years. So I up and quit.

  12. in time out
    Jan 23, 2009 @ 10:12:14

    you are definitely not a bad person for having the thoughts you have…many of mine are much worse than that and i don’t feel too bad about them…he he.. cheer up, hope work works out to not be any worse…okay, i was trying to rhyme, it didn’t work out so well. have a happy day.

  13. Catherine
    Jan 23, 2009 @ 10:31:42

    I have been thinking more on this. My conclusion is that when we get paid for doing something, it changes our attitude about that thing. This is why moms are better at caring for their children than babysitters and daycare providers and school teachers. I believe this extends to all fields of employment. In theory it makes sense for the government to set up organizations like Medicare and Social Security and food stamps to help people. And, no doubt, they do help people, as do you. But you see the same feelings in the employees of those organizations as you see in yourself. Over time they start to wish that people could just fix themselves so they could go home and relax, and that starts to show in the level of “customer care” (and yes, I think those quotations were appropriate in this case). The people on the front lines, the ones going down to see the child in the ER in pain, still have compassion and make the right decisions. But those one or two steps down the line, who never see the actual customer, are inherently more concerned with their own comfort than anyone elses. So, that’s what’s wrong with the world…maybe I should call Barack and tell him.

  14. E
    Jan 23, 2009 @ 18:39:47

    Please do, Cat.

    That’s bad, Al. Or maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s just an intrusive thought like Melanie J. was talking about. But I don’t really think it’s the same. So, I think I’m sticking with, you’re bad (in that one area but not overall or in every way).

  15. Annette
    Jan 24, 2009 @ 09:16:49

    The pay/work issue is a biggie, but I also think that keeping yourself a step away emotionally is the only way you can survive that kind of work. If you were to get emotionally involved with every kid’s issue, you wouldn’t be able to function–much like my cop brother, who’s had to photograph murders and the like and tries really hard to crack jokes and keep it light and NEVER think of the victim as a real person, because then he’d totally fall apart and not be able to do his job.

  16. Cj
    Jan 26, 2009 @ 09:29:23

    Interesting idea about the pay, Cat. I hadn’t thought about that. But then, once I started, I realized that I have a real job and three hobby jobs arranged around stuff I love – singing, plants, and basketball. I am quitting my plant job because I hate it and the pay is ludicrous (in a month, I don’t make enough to pay for an appraisal). I wouldn’t quit my opera job for several reasons.

    But my basketball job? I do color for internet radio broadcasts. Because we have no sponsors, I don’t get paid. I still love to do it. However, when I read your comment, I considered the job and the pay, and I realized that if I DID get paid, I would like the job LESS.

    That might be the saddest thing I ever learned about myself.

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