Sometimes, I think the hardest people to have sympathy for are people who seem to be hurting themselves.
Last night, for instance, we admitted a 15 year old boy who had gotten several different kinds of pills and taken them together, just for fun. Unfortunately for him, these were several kinds of sedating medicines, and so his mom brought him in because he was stumbling around and acting funny. She seems reasonable, and is at the end her rope with him. She has tried to get him into some sort of treatment facility for his drug use, but everywhere has a waiting list.
All I could think this morning was that he needed a big spanking. When we talked to him about his life, I don't think anything he told us was the truth. He's several grades behind in school, but that's not his fault. He also only used these pills yesterday because he was trying to save money. (It doesn't make sense to me, either.) I seriously just wanted to shake him to get him to understand that he was ruining his life and if he didn't change things, he was going to end up in prison. Or dead. But all part of me wanted to do was just go ahead and discharge him home, where he would be out of my way.
But then he started to talk about this dad - how he hadn't had any contact with him in several months, how he hadn't seen him in probably a year. This same dad who I knew had also spend some time in prison for drug use. Who lived only an hour away. Then, suddenly, I could see the sad child who was searching for love and fulfillment - in all the wrong places. It broke my heart. I felt rightfully chastised for being so annoyed earlier. Sometimes as a doctor it's easy to get hardened to things and to people - especially on a long call night (Just 1 more left before the baby comes!!) or when when I'm tired for any other reason (like being 34 weeks pregnant). But I hope and pray that God can keep giving me glimpses of why I do this, and how especially those patients who are most difficult - they are often the ones who are most hurting and are most in need of him.