I am tired. This has been a difficult week. Every couple of months, I have a week where I work a lot – covering the Acute Pain Service for 7 days in a row, on call for the weekend, second call for the week, and work in the OR every day. This is more than our household is used to. In addition to this, I got called in as part of a second team for an emergency case, which rarely happens in our institution. This meant I worked until 1 am on Wednesday and then started again for the day at 7:30am on Thursday. To further increase my fatigue, our littlest one has decided to test us and wake up and cry for several hours each night at a random time. So yes, I am tired. And my house has no groceries, I have no clean underwear, and we are not packed to leave for our trip to my parents tonight for Thanksgiving.

This kind of situation generally makes me short on patience and  cranky and irritable with my family. Oh, and did I mention that when I am overtired, I react to small things as though they are catastrophes?

But here’s the thing: that emergency case I had to come in for? It was an organ retrieval for donation. Amidst unimaginable tragedy, a child’s family had the courage to give an incredible gift. That evening it was my job to go and transport the patient to the operating room. I had to inform the family that it was time for their child to go to the OR. It is always difficult for families to say good bye to their child before an operation, but this…well, this is final.

I got home after 1am that night and I was tired. The baby did is crying thing, thus reducing my sleep even further. But I couldn’t sleep anyway, I never do after difficult cases. I got up at 6am and walked to work.

I am still so tired – but I am grateful for it. At least I am trying to be. And tonight when the kids are fooling around in the car, and we leave later than planned, and the baby is yelling in his car seat, I will remember that family. The family whose lives are altered forever in a tragic way. Thanks to that family, there are many families giving thanks this weekend for renewed hope for their loved one.

Yes, I am tired, but I have perspective. I will remember my patient’s family and be more gentle with my own and mindful during my time with them.  I feel privileged to have a job which is a constant reminder of how life can change in an instant. I have much to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

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