Lately, I’ve been pushed to my limit. After my outpost term ended, I returned to my original workplace; my relief was short-lived, however. It’s been a while since I worked under ward settings, and I had forgotten how strenuous it could get; not only that, much has changed during my absence. I had a stiff learning curve to master, but no one–not the nurses nor the patients–seems to recognize it. After my shift “officially” ends after 24 hours, I have to spend next several hours finishing charting, writing admission notes, issuing death certificates, and helping my colleagues who ask for my assistance. During these nearly 30 hours of non-stop shift, there were many times when I wanted to lock myself in the bathroom and have a good cry; but with my phone ringing almost every minute–from notification of the stats of the patient to requests for prescriptions–I can’t even go to the bathroom in peace, let alone cry. I thought I would get used to such work load with time, but the only thing time has done was wear me down. Yesterday, on my way to answer a call from the ICU, I had to choke back a sob. I quickly put on a hygiene mask and furiously blinked away the tears as I ran down the stairs, but I had a difficult time stopping myself from breaking down. I was startled by my own outburst, and in the midst of the tumultuous emotions, I had an epiphany that I wanted to share.
I encounter dozens and dozens of patients and family members during my shifts. The patient I meet at the end of the day is just one of the many I’ve met that day, but I’m one of the few, if not the only, physician they’ve met. So I’m expected to give them 100% of my attention and care as I do for all the other patients. It doesn’t matter if they’re the 100th person asking me the same question; it doesn’t matter if I’ve heard a similar story countless times before; they expect me to answer as if it’s the first time I’m answering such question; and they expect me to empathize as if it’s the first time I’ve heard such heartbreaking story.
The same holds for Harry. He meets many special people–from veterans to volunteers–during his engagements. While each person who gets to meet him is a special person, of course, I wouldn’t be surprised if giving every single one of them 100% of his attention is weary.
Continuously being “on”–whether in clinical setting or in engagements–takes its toll. Because you hold a special place of respect or admiration in that person’s heart, you’re given the responsibility to maintain such goodwill. You’re given a position of trust, and each person is so busy talking about themselves and their problems that they don’t get to see that they’re just one of the dozens of people you’ve met so far. This is not to say that their problem is insignificant; it’s just that the interaction you have in these circumstances is not really a “conversation” per se; it’s closer to active listening, Such exchange can be weary, because no one recognizes that you’re continuously placing yourself and your gut-instinct reactions on the back seat. Like I said, they’re telling their story for the first time, but they’re 100th person sharing such story and asking for your empathy. So you don’t get to express emotional fatigue. You always have to put on a facade to protect their feelings even if they’re oblivious to yours.
It doesn’t matter how many times I do something right; if I mess up once, I will still get reprimanded harshly by my superiors. During those times, I’m reminded that all of the work I’ve done go unnoticed and is taken for granted. Instead of considering the fact that I have spent 23 hours and 59 minutes on someone else, they will literally judge me on 1 minute decisions I have made. Yes, I understand the importance of split-second decisions, but you would think people who’ve walked on the same path will be more understanding, especially if I’m being respectful in my choice of words. When such distasteful encounter ends, I’m still expected to turn around and smile to a patient as if nothing happened.
I think it’s same, if not worse, with Harry. Every time he makes a public mistake, it’s filed away in public records. It doesn’t matter if 99% of his words or actions were impeccable, the critics will be quick to judge him unfavorably on that 1%. They will make false accusations and cruel comments under the guise of objectivity and fairness; but if they were really being fair, they would understand how illogical it is to judge someone based on innocent mistakes or misspoken words while discounting all the other good actions they’ve performed. Because such unfavorable assessments doesn’t stop at him, I wouldn’t be surprised if he received some reprimand from his family members as well when he makes such mistakes. They may have meant well, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Harry felt a bit betrayed by the very people who best understand the pressure that comes with public life. Harry’s expected to take it all, all because of his position he did not choose to be born in. Then, regardless of what’s written in the papers or what goes on behind the palace walls, he’s expected to show up to a next engagement with a smile on his face.
This is a lot harder than some realize. When you’re under a microscope with so many people demanding of your time and attention, even minor things can be blown out of proportion. You don’t really get to complain, because privilege comes with such high expectations; the one problem is, you never expected such high standards when you started out; you’re still a human being at the end of the day; and the people who’s so quick to point out YOUR mistakes are just humans, full of errors themselves.
If I’m so worn out at a relatively normal job, I can’t imagine the level of stress Harry’s enduring at the moment. Weirdly enough, realizing that someone else is under similar pressure on a much grander scale gave me a sense of comfort. You see, the reason I was so worn out was because I feel extremely unappreciated and isolated; no one really seems to understand what I’m going through; no one seems to understand the amount of effort I have to make to be kind; no one seems to understand how lonely I am; and no one seems to understand I need to hear that I did a good job like everybody else. The same probably holds true for Harry. I’ve noticed on the news and the blogs that every engagement with Ms. Markle is followed by criticisms toward her or directed at Harry. I’m not concerned with harsh words Ms. Markle’s receiving; I’m more focused on the ones Harry’s probably reading. If Harry’s indeed coerced to be with her, then he definitely deserves to hear/read/know that he’s doing a good job. Endless reminders that he’s the one who brought her into this mess isn’t going to help him. HE knows that better than anyone. After all, he’s the one facing her; he’s the one maintaining the facade; he’s the one with regrets; he’s the one getting lambasted; he’s the one who stays up in the middle of the night. He knows the situation better than any of the critics for sure. So cut him a break. With each engagement with her, he’s taking a step of responsibility to fix the situation he fell into. Even IF he’s with her of his own volition, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve to hear that he’s doing a good job. It takes severe emotional toll to maintain something that’s evidently falling apart. Either way, Harry did a good job today; he did a good job yesterday; and he will do a good job tomorrow.
**JD, sorry for a late post. I finally had a “day” off and managed to finally write something. I missed talking to you greatly. Hope you’ve been well ❤
Xoxo, Roseberrycupcakes (RCC)
Thank you, RCC, great to hear from you, God bless you for saving lives.