April 26th marked the two year anniversary of Lorna Breen’s death. It was a bit of an emotional day in my ER, at least for me. I made a point of taking a moment of rememberance with the few people left who knew her.
For many years, there was very little turnover in my ER. COVID changed all that – two years after her death, there are very few doctors and nurses left, which makes the whole thing even more surreal. Staff is either pre-COVID or post-COVID.
The trauma of what happened in March and April of 2020 was so great it caused a mass exodus. It’s impossible to talk to anyone who didn’t work through it about that time, so I shut up and keep my feelings to myself.
But yesterday, in the middle of the usual shitstorm that is the ER, a few of us met in the trauma room and told stories about our experiences with her. It felt good. Healing, actually.
What exactly do you call the relationship you have with the people you work with? If you’re an ER doc or nurse, your shifts are twelve and a half hours long in a chaotic environment filled with life and death scenarios. It’s your job to keep people alive, often failing despite your best efforts.
One of the ways you get through it is by developing close relationships with the people you work with based on respect and trust.
Can you trust the judgement of the person next to you? Will they do the right thing? Do they even know what the right thing is?
Once the shift is over, for the most part, you don’t see each other after work, yet you spend more time with them than you do with your spouse or partner. It’s not really a personal relationship, yet somehow it is. When one of them dies, you take it hard.
So RIP Lorna. You are gone, but for those whose lives you touched, you’ll never be forgotten.