Only two weeks into the New Year, and Tim had already broken his first resolution. Do. Not. Kill.
It was not just a resolution, but also a promise that he had made to himself for the New Year. It had to stop. The little voice inside his head had to go away. Oh, how Tim prayed for quiet, but the quiet never came. Not at night when he slept. Not when he ran full-speed at the track. Not even when he swam deep underwater at the pool at the YMCA after work.
Nothing would make the little voice inside his head go away.
The problem was that the little voice always said the same thing. “You’re not good enough.” “That guy is better at your job that you are.” “That guy dresses better than you do.” “That guy has a cooler car than you.” “That guy has a gorgeous woman to go home to, and what do you have? NOTHING!”
“Shut up…shut up…SHUT UP!” Tim yelled, grabbing his head and stopping for breath on the track. The runners around him gave him a wide berth, startled by the outburst but not enough to interrupt their own routines.
Realizing he had to get off the track and into a more solitary situation, Tim headed for the indoor pool.
He went from the door to the inside lane without stopping. When he finally came up for air, Tim was halfway down the Olympic-size pool and swimming hard. Stroke after stroke, kick after kick, it seemed to be working.
The voices shouting in his head were now just a dull whisper. Tim’s ears filled with water as he furiously swam freestyle down the lane and quickly turned and pushed off the wall to head back to start.
He didn’t feel tired – only invigorated. So, he pushed himself harder and harder. He had to be breaking some sort of speed record here. End of the lane, and he quickly turned and pushed off the wall again to head down the lane again.
His limbs weren’t tired, but his lungs began to burn. Tim did care. He pushed his body harder and faster than he ever had before. The voices finally stopped. End of the lane, and he turned one last time and pushed off the wall for one last lap.
Tim didn’t realize that he was no longer swimming in a straight line. He was no longer in the lane he began in but swimming diagonally in the water, under the ropes, and completely submerged.
His limbs began to feel heavier and heavier as he pushed harder to reach the edge of the water. His lungs felt like they were going to burst inside his chest. “You’ll never make it. Everyone else did.”
Only two weeks into the New Year, and Tim had already broken his first resolution. Do. Not. Kill. But, he did that afternoon in the pool. The weight of all those lives he held in his hands in the operating room had grown too much. All the good he could have done had he only tried a little harder, studied more, worked more.
It was too much for Dr. Timothy Wilson to stomach in the end. With his last breath underwater, as the water rushed into his lungs, it washed away all the disappointment and guilt that came with being a surgical resident.