Written by Dr. Gracie Jeba, Senior Resident, Dept. of Anesthesiology & Critical Care Medicine, Fortis Hospital, Mohali, Punjab

Someone told me that there is joy in leaving ICU.

Either after everyday work or once and for all. 

” The longer working hours, highly demanding field, the environment with dying and death and errors if made, is dangerous, proves that working in an ICU makes one stressful” – A survey said.

This is because we are depicted as healers and not helpers. 

Somehow the community see doctors as someone with miraculous powers and a wand that obliges us to do everything we want and this humongous expectations with which they bring along the ailing, is a hell to live up to, that too when it’s impossible sometime. 

They don’t realise one basic thing that human bodies have a threshold and knowing that humbles even a double or a triple board-certified doctor. 

We have seen patients recovering when treatment is withdrawn and also patients deteriorating despite the best care. Even certain events astonish us, while many events disappoint us during treatment.

We live most of our daily hours between loud screams and crashing vitals. We insert tubes and poke them with needles. We somehow try to compensate for the losses, the body go through, during the illnesses. We decide to assist their breathing and take over the cardiac functions too. We replace kidney’s ability to excrete and we remove toxins that couldn’t be metabolised by liver. There is only so much that we can do.

We know the desperation of the family to take their patient home again, all healed. However, sometimes the sickness, just overwhelms the body and we get blamed. 

Therefore, never ever let anyone give you an abode beside God. It’s not where we should be kept. Ruthlessly, crush that damn superstition that doctors are like GOD. Tell them that we are mere humans, aiding the sick, alleviating the pain and making the suffering more bearable and prescribing the evidence-based medicine, meanwhile praying and hoping, that our patient improves.

We are just YOU, with the knowledge of medicine. 

Aside from what you believe, we don’t go home after we lose a life. We don’t get a break to breakdown after someone passes away in ICU. We don’t get to hold someone’s hand or hug someone after we have tried our best during the resuscitation. We try to stay strong for the other patients who need us.

Our job is seeing that we fail at the face of sickness almost every day. Our emotions are not validated and we condition ourselves to have appropriate emotional responses. We handle things professionally and we got to continue working without a pause, despite our lives getting stunned whenever we lose someone.

It’s not an easy place to work where we get defeated by life-threatening diseases, almost every day and we should be in our A- game despite being perpetually run down. 

Therefore, when I quote that there is JOY in leaving ICU, I mean it, with no second thought.

I mean that there are at least some beautiful things on our way out that will make us smile and dance and gives us hope for the coming days. 

That’s the reason, we have to go home and hug the ones that we love and ease into that hug for a really long time, because we are allowed to mourn that part of us that we keep losing every day, only in those warm hugs.

So, I say again, “There is an absolute joy in leaving ICU”.

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