I’m working days right now.  I was in the ER 7-4 Thursday, Friday and today, and will be again tomorrow.  They’re busy shifts, full of everything from wounds to strokes, Bell’s Palsy to pneumonia, drunk left-overs from the night to hospice care.  At the end of a day, I feel emotionally drained.

I’ve sifted through so many complaints to find the one or two very bad things.  I’ve disappointed people by saying ‘I can’t find anything.’  I’ve angered families by saying, ‘I can’t admit your mother.’  I’ve asked other physicians for help only to have them circuitously, ever so politely, tell me that I didn’t need their help and could deal with it myself.  When I finish the last patient each day, turn in the pager and head for home, I really need some solace.

Fortunately, it’s there.  On the way home today I stopped to by some Coke Zero for Sam, my 13-year-old who is ill.  I got some Chex Mix for my daughter Elysa, who asked her mother to ask me for it.  I bought a watermelon and corn to eat with the steaks I was planning to grill.  And when all was prepared, we sat down to dinner as a family.  We’ve done it about five or six times this past week.  It has been a wonderful treat.  We played a trivia game where we had to list things from a card, like ‘The Seven Wonders of the World,’ ‘The Five Pillars of Islam,’  ‘The Ten Commandments,’ ‘The gods of Olympus,’ and so on and so on.  We laughed and joked and told stories.

We’ve read Bible stories and discussed their meanings.  I have tucked children in bed, talked with them, kissed their heads, rubbed aching tummies in the night, given Tylenol for fever, checked the glucose of my diabetic son, kissed my wife good night and held her, prayed my prayers and slept.  I have risen in the morning and begun again.

Sometimes medicine can drain us.  So we need a solace.  A home is such a place.  My home reminds me that I work to support the ones I love.  My home makes me laugh and smile.  My home fills me with warm memories of life with my lovely wife and children.  Home is my safe place, my own place, my hide-away from EMS tones, cranky doctors, sick patients, pharmacy phone calls about Percocet, dictations and every other niggling detail of daily life in medicine.

My family also reminds me that I take care of the other families out there.  Part of my job is to see to the well-being of the families who come to me.  I am there to ensure that they are well enough to return to their own places of solace, if such they have.  (For not every home is a solace.)

Before I wrote this, we jumped on the trampoline.  The air tonight is cool like Autumn.  The sky low with clouds, and green trees are dropping golden leaves amid the dried, dead remains of blackberry bushes.

In the cool air we laughed and bounced, wrestled and rolled.  In the cool evening we gave each other love and comfort.  In the past, when I played with the kids on that great bouncy delight, I would tire and they would huddle around me saying, ‘give Papa energy!’

Tonight they did.  Tonight my wife, also, gave me energy.  Tonight, my home and all I love, and work to secure, gave me more delight than I could have imagined.

I will sleep sweetly.  I will return to work tomorrow, having traversed the infinity of the night.  I will awaken reborn through the love of my family and the sweet solace of my log home on the red-clay hilltop in South Carolina.


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