What was it like?
When talking about serious illnesses, either when helping train people or when just sharing war stories, I’m often asked ‘What was that like, dealing with that?’ Most of the time I just say ‘scary’. However, properly thinking about it, I think this is a very good analogy (though I say so myself):
“Imagine you have spent two or three years studying for a course. You’ve passed every test, done your final and got a decent mark. Everything is going well, and you’re just starting to relax.
“Then, when you’re least expecting it, you get told you have one more exam. Oh, and you got 5 minutes notice, and you’ve just realised that you can’t really remember anything. So your stomach’s rolling, the old fight or flight is kicking in, with the latter definitely looking inviting, and the adrenaline is making it hard to think in a straight line.
“Take that feeling. Add on the fact that you could be tested on anything you have ever learnt. Not to mention about three times as many things that you haven’t learnt. Then add the thought that if you fail, there are no re-sits. No do overs. If it goes wrong, that’s it. And it won’t be you who’ll suffer. It will be the trusting soul in front of you. Oh, and even if you do everything perfectly, you could still fail. And there’s nothing you can do about it.
“Then triple it all, because you know all this, and you are constantly second guessing everything you do. That probably comes close to it.”
I often then get asked,
“But why do you volunteer to do it then?”
“Because, when the fear is gone, and adrenaline wears off, and it hits you that what you’ve done has made someone better, or even just made them more comfortable, or hang on for just a little longer, that feeling easily outweighs anything bad that the world can throw at you. And you’ve done it, despite all that fear, and worry, and stress.”
Of cause, those incidents aren’t the worst. The worst are the ones were you don’t have time to think about what’s going on or how scared you are. The ones were you switch off the soft human bit and just work. And then, when it’s all done, it all hits you, and with the few times I’ve had it happen, it hits hard. Those are the ones that are scary.