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I think my heart is breaking, a little. [View All]

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Aristus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 12:31 AM
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I think my heart is breaking, a little.
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It's so hard to stay objective in this line of work.

I have one patient, she's a prostitute and a heroin addict. And she has some serious issues with depression. She muscles her heroin, and she's in every couple of weeks to get an incision, drainage, and some antibiotics. She's always at least a little weepy and anxious, but yesterday really tore me up.

When I entered the exam room, she was distractedly putting on her makeup, and crying. I couldn't get her to give me a history of her current condition. Foundation, powder, lipstick, even mascara, even though it ran continuously, since she was crying the whole time. She finally took a minute to show me her new abscess; a little swelling and redness, but not ready for incision and drainage. Some antibiotics and a few days of warm wet compresses would take care of it. Then she went back to her frantic makeup application, still weeping. She even brushed some polish over the onychomycosis on her fingernails.

I got her taken care of. But when I finally had a chance to think about it, the makeup seemed to me to symbolize her human dignity, her sense of self worth. I can only imagine what a horrible train wreck of a life she must have. And I can't get rid of the image of her crying and compulsively applying her makeup, as if, fully made up, her life wouldn't be so awful.

Maybe that's some poor dime store analysis there, but that's my take on it.

I love what I do, but it can take a lot out of you...

Thank you for listening.
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