Today is my 8th day off in a row. It hasn't actually been the most ideal vacation since it took spending 3 nights in the hospital to get days off, but I'm feeling quite refreshed none-the-less.
Even though I wasn't even close to deathly ill, I came home last Thursday and appreciated my wife and children more so than I normally might. My job allows me to spend quality time with my family, but I spent even more quality time with them.
I suppose I came home with a growing appreciation for what little I have. Not that I didn't appreciate it before, but I appreciate it more so now -- at least for a while.
I also feel vulnerable. I think that's a normal feeling people get after spending a few nights in the hospital. By vulnerable I mean not feeling as though I'm going to live forever, and I need to take care of myself so I'm still around when my kids have kids and their kids have kids.
Perhaps all people who work in a hospital have some sense of vulnerability, since we see what happens to people when they don't take care of themselves on a daily basis. Despite this, however, we still tend to turn a blind eye to this. For lack of a better word, we become numb to it.
We become numb to it despite all the people who tell us, "If I'd have known I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself."
Yet, how many among us still continue to smoke, to drink on a regular basis, or eat excessively? How many among us are going to fill up on all that candy sitting around the nurses stations this year? How many among us are still going to pig out at all those Christmas parties until we are bloated?
The truth is, most of us will. And even while I had been working out in an attempt to get in better shape before becoming an in-patient last week, I had been slacking to some extent. Yes, I am in better shape than most people my age, but I am still overweight. I am still vulnerable.
We all can think of many among us who smoke, drink and eat and be merry all day long or at least "socially" and never seem to have any consequences to this. While I do all of these (except smoke) on occasion, I have learned I have bad genes that won't allow me to not suffer any consequences.
Not that this would have prevented my most recent hospital visit, because my doctor said it was simply, "luck of the draw" that I got H. Pylori in my small intestine. But still, people with good genes would not have been hit this hard.
There is no way anyone of us can be perfect. There is no way to avoid all the temptations proffered to us this time of year, so long as we are aware of what we are doing; so long as we are aware of our vulnerability.
I think it's this vulnerability that we feed when we educate our patients on what they need to do to improve their lives. While most of these people will follow what we say to a tee while they are still feeling "vulnerable" after their release from the hospital, they will soon forget, as most of us forget too as time passes by.
They will forget until they get sick again. They will forget until they get so sick they are forced to change their lifestyle, because their disease process will no longer allow them to smoke, or to drink, or to eat excessively.
It is important to enjoy life. It is also important to at least be aware that we are also not impervious. We are all vulnerable.
Click here for my experience with vulnerable.