Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Browbeaten

These last few days have left me feeling pummeled, stretched to the limit, thoroughly beaten. The word "browbeaten" came to mind as I drove home, and the definition on dictionary.com seems fitting to my mood.

Browbeaten really means intimidated or bullied, and this does indeed coincide with my feelings today. This sensation does not arise from an individual---or even a particular institution, for that matter. I feel bullied and beaten about the ears by the "system" at large---that of healthcare, of politics, of economics, of that which creates, sustains and propagates poverty and its discontents.

There is no one in particular to blame, no single finger which I can point, other than to say that, on many days, I feel like I'm working against a tide which has no fixed point of reference, upon which few buoys float which offer respite from the constant treading of water. While I am not defeated, I'm certainly deflated, like someone let the air out of my tires and there's no filling station for miles.

Taking the definition of browbeaten at face value, I feel intimidated by the seemingly endless struggle against entropy and helplessness that so many of my patients present at my doorstep. I see such pain in their pleading eyes which yearn for me to offer the magic bullet to separate them from their constant suffering. My inability to assuage their suffering---and their persistent requests for such magical powers on my part---often leaves them disappointed and me exhausted. Today is a day in the middle of the week when that exhaustion seems like it could preclude all further constructive action by me on their behalf.

But will it?

My answer, as always, is no, that I'll get up tomorrow and try again. But this heaviness of heart and fatigue of the spirit sure do weigh one down.

As I write, my dog ambles over and forces her muzzle underneath my arm, using a jerking motion to detach my hand from the keyboard. She's signalling me that it's time to get out of my head and get down on the floor with her, returning to the present, the reality of having a body, and the comforting softness of a dog's fur to stroke. I'll cease and desist now from my rant of discontent, and hope that relief comes tomorrow in whatever form it desires.

Now, it's the floor for me, and the comfort of canine company.
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