Taking care of ill patients exerts an enormous physical and emotional toll. Caregivers of all types—doctors, nurses, therapists, family members—are susceptible to these strains. But reactions to these stresses are different. Some caregivers possess large emotional reserve and strong support systems. Others become cynical or callous. Still others find that these stresses exacerbate underlying depression or drug and alcohol issues. For most caregivers, it is a complex combination of individual coping mechanisms and an evolution of our personalities—for better or worse.
In this video “Intensive Care,” I tell the story of a remarkable and brilliant physician who had a profound effect on me during my medical training. It is a true story, but the names have been changed.
The essay is from the book “Singular Intimacies: Becoming a Doctor at Bellevue” (Beacon Press). The reading was filmed at Baruch College.
Danielle Ofri is a writer and practicing internist at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital. She is the editor-in-chief of the Bellevue Literary Review. Her newest book is Medicine in Translation: Journeys with my Patients. View the YouTube book trailer.
Her blog, Medicine in Translation, appears on Psychology Today’s website.