I never thought much about it the first time, but recently someone else said the same thing, so I've been thinking about it a lot.
He said, "I can never become a doctor. Seeing all those things would affect me too much."
I don't think people mean anything much when they say these things. Even after joshua explained how difficult it was for him the first time, but his friend remained unconvinced - still, I'm not exactly angry.
A bit of this is what joshua's already said: It was hard for us, too. Especially in third year when we first entered the wards, seeing children with cancer, trauma patients - that was tough. It was too much to take, and maybe we had to leave and get some distance from the case.
Over the years things have changed and now, yes, it's different. It's not that we don't feel sad. But maybe we've learnt to turn the empathy off.
Imagine seeing the face of a father whose five year old son has a glass eye and cancer. Imagine the expression he has when we come in and ask for permission to examine.
Imagine the sounds of a family shouting at each other outside the curtain, saying "Quality of life matter more!" "No, quantity!", while you and your colleague silently draw blood for the patient inside, where a man draws one of his last struggling breaths.
Imagine seeing a mother wail with grief as she sinks to her knees and claws her heart, sobbing.
Imagine standing with your back to the wall as a family surrounds you and demands answers you don't have, some crying, and refuse to let you leave.
Imagine having to tell somebody that some interventions are possible, but they're too expensive and not covered by the scheme.
I don't think it's possible to go through this unscathed. Eventually we learn ways to cope. I think all of us are trying to do our best, and to always be professional and kind; at the same time I think we all have tried to find ways to protect our heart.
But of course it hard. It was as hard for us as it would have been for you.