Why I’m Not a Doctor

I have always found the human body to be fascinating. In fact, at least once a year some news story, podcast or article gives me another reason to marvel at our complex physiological systems and the amazing individuals who study and repair them everyday. And every time I do, I feel a little bit jealous that I am not one of them. I would have loved to be in the medical field, but I have one fatal flaw.

I can’t stand the sight of blood.

I’m not just a little squeamish, seeing blood and needles makes me pass out. Growing up I learned to lay down when giving blood. I learned to cover an injury immediately and then get help for treatment. I didn’t hesitate when I cut my finger badly at my mother’s 60th birthday party — I grabbed a wad of paper towels and applied pressure. And then I asked my sister, a nurse, to take care of it while I sat and looked the other way.

People told me that when I had children I would be able to deal with it — that motherly instincts would help me rise above it for them. I wish that was the case. When my daughter was five or six she was holding our dog’s leash when she was quite young and she got pulled hard, fell and ended up scraping herself on the sidewalk. I carried her the half mile home eyes forward, focused on calming her down. When we got home and it was time to treat the abrasions I took one look and had to sit down. My husband sent me for supplies.

Another time, my infant son had surgery to remove a fistula. After he was safely out of the anesthesia the nurse sat down with us and explained how we had to clean and pack the wound so it could heal properly. I started to get woozy and the nurse hurriedly pulled up a stool telling me to put my head between my knees. A week later I found myself alone and having to deal with it myself. I tried — so hard — to pull my crap together and do what needed to be done. I yelled at myself and started crying standing over him on the diaper changing table. I called in the calvary: my sister-in-law, a nurse, drove over and did it in about 3 minutes.

She didn’t laugh. Much.

I am thankful every single day that there are talented people who can do what I cannot. People for whom the human body  is just as fascinating but not frightening. People whose bodies do not let them down when faced with blood, bodily fluids and tissue. People who are capable of running into danger without becoming another medical emergency. Without you, I would be in deep trouble. I need you, literally, to stay alive.

In return, I promise to do all the tortuous Excel and PowerPoint. It’s the least I can do.