Further to my post yesterday, I haven’t had any extended time off from my practice since July, 2014. When my receptionist pointed that out to me, I was kind of surprised. I’ve taken a few long weekends here and there but yeah, I haven’t really had a break from my job in well over a year.
It’s no wonder I’m a little cranky.
My older colleagues regularly take a month off every summer and at least a week or two in the winter. They can afford to do so as their children are now all grown up and out of the house. I am not in that position yet. I still have a mortgage and other debt to pay off and I wonder sometimes if I ever will?
I love my job but it’s hard to listen to other people’s problems day in and day out. Most of the time I can help solve the problem; here’s an antibiotic for tonsillitis; here’s a pill for your awful irregular periods, or here’s a great physiotherapist for your chronic ankle sprain. If that was the extent of the problems I would be fine without a regular holiday. But it’s not like that in family medicine. In family medicine I see the wife who found out her husband is having an affair; I see the schizoaffective patient off their meds; I see the teenager with anger management issues displaying cluster B traits (borderline personality disorder) who bounces from one psych unit t to the next; I see the elderly woman with memory problems who doesn’t remember she has memory problems.
I am privy to the knowledge that a wife plans to leave her husband, who is also my patient and is about to be blindsided. I am privy to the knowledge of a history of horrific childhood abuse and the subsequent psychological damage that does to a person. I am privy to the knowledge that a 40-something year old man really wants to be a woman.
It is a privilege to be these people’s family physician, it really is.
But even the doctor needs a break.