Sometimes things happen that render you paralyzed with the horror of it all, speechless with its senselessness, dizzy with the Why of it, and nauseated with the thought that there may never be an answer. When things of this variety come wheeled in on a gurney through the hospital emergency room doors, I have endogenous adrenaline to help override the otherwise innate desire within me to make sense of the situation. When there is a patient with severe closed head injuries due to a high speed car crash and another patient next door with a pneumothorax, a long bone fracture and a blood alcohol level triple the legal limit, it simply doesn’t matter in the moment of their arrival that the drunk patient is the driver of the car that caused the accident. The only thing that matters is timely and appropriate care. That’s what I’ve been trained to do, and so I do it.
When things of this variety happen in a small community of which I am not directly affiliated…there is no adrenaline, there is nothing for me to busy myself with, and I am allowed to sit, in stunned silence, to take it all in…and to wish, like the students and faculty at Virginia Tech and like the rest of the country, that things like this didn’t happen.
If there’s anything I’ve come to appreciate in my line of work, it’s that life is fragile and tragically fickle…but the human soul and spirit can sometimes be unimaginably, outstandingly valiant and invincible. I just wish it didn’t take tragedies like this to make the world realize that.