Until a patient decided to spit in my face.
Now I've been working in the ED for a few years, and I've certainly been spit at many times. But this was the first well-formed spittle missile that made direct contact with my flesh just below the eye.
My knee-jerk reaction was a surprising amount of anger. Despite being a pretty non-violent individual, I truly wanted to jack the guy in the face. Here was a dood who picked a fight with the wrong crowd and lost badly, who then decided to take out his frustrations on the very people he turned to for help.
But unlike this patient, I controlled my impulses. I stepped away from the situation. I washed my face repeatedly. I went outside and checked my voicemail. And then I spent the rest of encounter treating him with the respect and dignity that he refused to show others.
Later in the night, one of the nurses showed me this, and I chuckled. Maybe I should become a surgeon?