So often we think of the frustrations and failures that visit is in emergency medicine, or indeed in any specialty of medicine.  These are memorable.  For whatever reason, we jettison the good, we suppress success, and we hold tightly to criticism, pain, loss, failure, imperfection, complaining patients, oppressive rule-makers.

But we succeed; we really do.  I should know. Two years ago my wife Jan was diagnosed with stage 4 oropharyngeal cancer.  It was just before Christmas.  Our youngest age 9, our oldest age 15.  Hearts were heavy, though of all the cancers she could have had, it was one of the most cureable.

In the course of her therapy she developed a saddle pulmonary embolus and was critically ill.

Thanks to the grace of God and the devotion of her physicians, she sits with us this Christmas day, beautiful and healthy as ever.

How many of our patients are the same?  Rescued from trauma, resuscitated from MI, retrieved from over-dose, diagnosed early enough for cancer-therapies, lifted up from suicide attempts, suicidal thoughts.  Fractures repaied, pneumonias cured.  The list goes on and on.

Sometimes we fail miserably.  But more than not, we succeed.  Sometimes medicine is a drain on body, mind and soul. Some days it is an epic victory. And many times, the victories are hidden from us down the fog of the years.

Today, however frustrated you are, know that somewhere, a family enjoys this day, this season together because you did the right thing, found the problem, treated the injury, took the risk, looked deeper, failed to surrender your patient to inevitability.

Merry Christmas dear doctors, nurses, PAs, medics and all the rest!  Be proud that you made another year a reality for someone, and likely for many someones, whether you realize it or not.


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