A few months ago, I mentioned that I do work as a Standardized Patient. I’ve signed confidentiality agreements and so I can’t talk about the specifics of cases, especially not in this blog. These are medical exams after all and, I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to have a doctor who passed his exam because he cheated through regular readership on some chicky’s acting blog. Oh, and I don’t want to get sued. There’s that too.
That said, I am allowed to mention that I do the work in general. So far, I had always found SP work to be quite simple. Learn some case details, show up for training, show up for exam, listen to the candidate, improv a little when thrown a curve ball, eat some free food, done. Easy paycheck.
Yesterday though, things changed. I didn’t realize I had a case that would be both tough on me physically and mentally until it started. Some details started hitting close to home and, during a break, I broke down a bit. When you put yourself into a position where you try to be as believable as possible with your “part” and you keep repeating the same issue over and over again, it’s understandable that your mind and body might get a little confused. It starts to take a toll. (This actually got me thinking about Hugh Laurie and his current leg issues on House.) They do have spares that are available to replace us if something happens, but it was late in the day and the spare was already sent home. I did talk to the trainers/supervisors. They would have let me sit it out if I absolutely needed to, but I knew I would be leaving them in a bind. My actor survival instinct kind of kicked in at that moment. I splashed some water on my face, had a soda and a good stretch and then I jumped right back in. It was difficult, but I managed.
We were debriefed on the case post-exam and I know they will propose some changes, which might include an SP rotation and more frequent breaks. That said, the shadow of this case followed me home and haunted me for a good two to three hours later. I just couldn’t shake it off. Finally, I did the one thing I realized always clears my head these days. I went for a run. I pumped my legs harder than I ever had before with angry music blaring in my ears. In the damp night air, the coolness on my face was invigorating and I started feeling like myself again.
Has this ever happened to anyone else? Have you ever had difficulty letting go of a part or a character? Am I just weird?