I have often wondered what emotions other Medics feel. I also often wonder what emotions other Emergency Professionals feel are appropriate to have on scene and after. How does everyone deal with it, and not the textbook answers...First my story.
One hindrance of being a Military Medic in a combat zone is the inability to process and deal with emotions. God knows I bottled up over a years worth of seeing brothers and sisters in uniform fucked up on a daily basis. Seeing the innocents of war, children, torn to pieces both physically and emotionally. The emotions must be bottled up because you have to be the rock, that one person that can work in added pressure of trying to save a life on top of trying to staying alive. Any weakness you show can have a huge blow to the confidence your patient has in you. It can also make you combat ineffective since it can be a distraction.
Sure I had a couple of moments; watching a First Seargent and a Seargent Major shed tears over the loss of a soldier in front of the medical personnel. The two NCOs in a unit that are supposed to be the emotionless baddasses that do nothing but kick ass and get the mission done. Watching a mother read a letter that her son sent home the day he died, read on Mothers Day, one week after he was your patient and despite everything you did he died. Those two incidents offered me a few minutes out of over a year to lose control of that emotionless facade and break down in private. Maybe five minutes each time. In retrospect I managed to stuff a career of emotions into 14 months and allowed myself to shed some tears for maybe 10 minutes. Also, in retrospect it was not a good plan.
Fast forward 2 years, back home and back to the job I left, barely holding it together. I had gotten divorced because my ex-wife did not know me anymore, I was close to the unemployment line, and pissed off at anyone that did not serve their country. Seamed like all I wanted to do was beat someone, I could not sleep, I could not allow myself to have emotions, or release what was bottled up. I was scared that if I allowed any of the emotions to come out they would all come out, anger and rage included. I was scared of myself and the monster I had bottled up inside.
It all came to a head on a job site when the cap was loosened on the bottle and a little pressure was vented. I made some decisions out of rage and the resulting actions could have seriously injured someone. A coworker was trying to push me over that edge and almost succeeded, I ended up having a choice of getting professional help or collecting unemployment. I was fortunate that my employer was very Veteran friendly, they pushed me to do what I was too proud to do on my own: Talk to someone...
Part 2 -The Process of healing begins.