I couldn’t believe it, I was living a nightmare.
Was it fair? All this talk about mental health but what about us? Our mental health? We, who are constantly surrounded by sickness and death, who work our asses off trying to save others, who don’t have a life.
“Then why do you do it?” pops the inevitable rejoinder.
“Why did I do it?” I’ve actually asked myself this question several times. And each time the answer is the same. Because I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. Sounds cheesy but it is true.
I cried when I saw that miserable creature. It is not easy for me to break down because of the wall I’d built around myself but I couldn’t help it that night. Her body was tattooed with horrendous scars. She was a heroin addict who had been in recovery but the pandemic had made her relapse. She had lost her job and her house. She flinched at the slightest touch. Her body was dotted with pockets of pus where she had injected herself. She asked me not to judge her. I didn’t. I wept instead before steeling myself and moving on to my next patient.
Work, work, work. No chance to get a snack, even to pee. Phone going off constantly. What I wouldn’t have given for a five minute break. But no. Keep going, I told myself. Just keep a couple more hours then I can have a break- a break of three whole days.
I’m done finally. I get to go home and then the fatigue hits. Music helps. I drive on autopilot, the route is imprinted in my subconsciousness and the sun is directly in my eyes. I feel discombobulated. I turn up the volume. Oh no, I drove through a red light. The streets are empty though, it is the weekend and everyone is sleeping in, while I…
I hear that voice, that magical voice. His voice. My serotonin. What keeps me going. I’m okay, I tell myself.
I make it in one piece. Three dizzy flights of stairs then I stumble into my apartment. I’m greeted by the drooping fronds of my fern, my faithful companion of five years, ever since I’d moved in. I dump a whole jug of water in it. No way was I going to let anyone die on my shift, human or plant.
I open the refrigerator. Nothing looked remotely appealing, anyhow I didn’t have the energy to heat anything up. I just needed sleep. Just a few hours then I’d be fine. I took a shower (it’s a must, I could skip food but not a shower) then passed out on the cold bed.
I was choking, fighting for air, struggling against this heavy weight pressing on my chest. Help!!
I sit up with a start.
“You okay? You were screaming,” mutters a low husky and very familiar voice.
“Whaaa ..” my chest was pounding. No.. no it wasn’t.. isn’t. I blinked and kept blinking. He laughed– his trademark soft rumble that made me love him so much more.
It’s him. The man in my dreams. I raise a trembling hand to his beautiful face. I can feel his skin. It is soft, silky; his honey eyes droopy with sleep and he is smiling.
“I.. are you… ?”
“Yes, I am,” he nods. “Remember we met at that party last week? The one that you hadn’t planned to go to but your friend forced you to come along? I need to thank her, I haven’t done that yet.”
I still didn’t believe it. “Pinch me,” I said.
“Enough, now just Stfu!” Then he pulled me down and kissed me.