Three More Hours

I am sitting in a salon chair finally getting my hair done. It desperately needs some help and this was the only time I could fit it in. I 

work this afternoon and then I am off for almost three weeks. 

Three weeks! 

Three more hours of patient visits to go. 

Three more hours of lab reports, consults and prescription renewals. 

Three more hours of dealing with other people’s problems. 

Yesterday I started to worry that I was getting depressed again. I suddenly just felt … I don’t know, I felt off. I felt like I just didn’t care about any of it anymore. I didn’t want to go home and face the chaos of trying to clean and pack and deal with the kids. 

But then I got home and amongst the chaos and dirty faces and piles of laundry to fold, I felt immensely better.  I was happy to be home. I can’t begin to describe how reassuring that was to feel. Despite the state of emergency that my house is currently in, I was happy to be home and in the middle of it. 

I don’t need a break from my family, house or kids. I need a break from work. 

Only three more hours to go. 

Burnt.

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.

On Strength.

I know it’s been a while that I’ve written when I can’t remember what my last post was about. There’s been a lot going on, all of it good for the most part.

Daughter got her cast off and is on the mend. Most days I think she forgets about the elbow injury but she has been careful not to test it on the monkey bars (thanks in large part to the Orthopedic surgeon who told her not to go near them for a few weeks).

I’ve been a slammed at work… again.  My colleague had a family emergency quite suddenly and we’ve had to juggle her practice.  Thankfully there was a replacement doctor coming in for some vacation time so that has eased the burden this week.  I often feel I am asked to cover for my colleagues more than they cover for me and it’s been like that for years.  I work more than they do so it makes sense, I guess.  Still, it’s annoying and not likely to change unless I also reduce my hours, which isn’t going to happen anytime soon.  I nod politely and tell them I’ll do what I can but inside I can’t help but feel resentful. I know this is something that can’t continue because it will eat away at me. I just want things to be equal and I fear it’s never going to be.

Running is going well. I signed up for a 15k race and it’s coming up this weekend.  Of course I am nervous about it; I worry I’ll fall flat on my face and not finish even though I ran 18k two weeks ago, my furthest run to date.  The last 2k were very hard and I walked a lot so I know I was pushing myself but I felt I needed to in order to feel more confident about the upcoming race. I’ve been tapering since then and haven’t run more than 5-7 km and taking more rest days.  I ran 87.5 km during the month of May. My total for the year so far is 381 km.  I am not sure I’ll reach my goal of running 1000 km in 2015 but I do know that I will run a half marathon.

I also started strength training at home on the suggestion of my chiropractor and Pilates coach.  I’ve been doing upper and lower body free weights and have noticed a significant difference in my stamina already after just a month.  During my last run a few days ago, I was able to run up a very large hill without any walking.  That’s not something I could have done a month ago.  What an exhilarating feeling!  I have to say it’s also pretty cool seeing the changes in my muscles.  I already had pretty strong arms thanks to carrying toddlers around for the past 6 years almost non-stop.  My main weakness has been in my glutes so I learned how to do dead lifts and started incorporating those a couple of times a week into my routine.  Core strength is incredibly important as well and planking has helped.  My FB running group has a daily elbow plank challenge going on this month and my time has already increased by almost 25 seconds in just a week.  I’ve also been biking to and from work at least once a week as well.  I have a mountain bike, it’s pretty heavy and not terribly efficient so it’s a good workout, especially when I’m riding along the trail and have to climb the hills.

Fortis ego sum.

I am strong.

Geeking Out.

What do you do when it’s a reallllly slow day at the office?  All my paper work is done, referrals are faxed, labs are reviewed, and patients are seen on time.

Watch the new Star Wars trailer, of course!!!!

I just totally geeked out in my office.  My staff are probably thinking they should haul out the Form 1.

A Welcome Reprieve

Family medicine is great. Earlier in the week I was completely slammed, double booked almost every hour. This morning two people no-showed and I have cleared my inbox in record time.  I’ve paid the office bills that piled up on my desk all week, I’ve already had two coffees and am feeling the caffeine buzz.  The phones at the front desk are pretty quiet.

The calm before the storm?

You betcha!

Mornings like this are nice especially when they follow a couple of crazy weeks of non-stop patients. It gives me time to reflect and regroup. It also makes me wish I had my cross-stitching tucked away in my desk. I have several projects on the go and being able to work on something while at the office would be great, especially on days like today when I have done all the work I can do and am just waiting for patients to show up.

I started cross-stitching in medical school.  I was never a crafty person and can’t draw a straight line with a ruler, so this was something I was quite surprised I took to so well.  Counted cross stitching is methodical, it’s relatively easy to learn and hard to mess up.  Having said that, on more than one occasion I have miscounted my stitches and while it can be really frustrating at the time, for the most part it is a relaxing and meditative hobby that I absolutely love.  When I haven’t had an opportunity to stitch I get cranky and irritable.  So at times like this, when the office is unusually quiet, I really wish I had my hobby to go to.

TGIF.

I don’t have pneumonia. Yippee!

Not.

My chest still burns and I feel like I’m coughing up a lung. Bleh.  I almost wish I did have pneumonia because then I could get some antibiotics and feel better.  Enough is enough, really.  Come on.  I’ve had this stupid cough for well over a month. But then again, so has everyone else I’ve seen.  What’s funny is me trying to get a history, turn around to cough into my elbow, then turn back, stand up to examine someone and they say, “Wow, Doc, you sound worse than I do!”.

Yes, yes I do. Thanks for noticing.  Why are you in my office again?

Le sigh.

TGIF. I just want to curl up in bed until Christmas.

No Breaks.

Day 28. National Blog Posting Month

I am actually looking forward to the weekend. It has been a hellish week at work (see my earlier posts).  I’ve been insanely busy with appointments and double bookings and it seems like everyone’s lab tests are abnormal. I was supposed to have a meeting with my colleagues at dinner last night but I felt unwell all day and had to cancel.  I thought the stomach virus was coming back but I think I just needed some sleep. So this colleague and I have not actually spoken about the issue that came up this week and rather than hang around this afternoon to do so, I am going to get the hell out of here while I still can.  I have no one booked this afternoon, so I am finally going to get home before 6pm which is so nice for a change.

I got to work this morning thrilled that no one was booked after 1 pm and dug in to clear my inbox. And that’s when I found out a patient (60 years old) has had a 20+ point drop in their hemoglobin over the past six months. This patient has other serious problems, a degenerative neurological disease, and really doesn’t need me to call and tell him he’s now anemic and we have to find out why.

For those not in the know – a significant drop in hemoglobin, the molecule in the blood that carries oxygen and is a marker of the bleeding status of a patient, in an individual over the age of 50 is a red flag for a gastrointestinal malignancy until proven otherwise.  This patient has not had any overt bleeding events in the past 6 months.  The bowel pattern has changed but was being blamed by the medications used to treat his neurological condition.  This patient has been declining rapidly with respect to his neurological status but now I can’t help but think there was something going on all along this past year that we are only just now seeing.  Could this patient have cancer?  I fear the answer may very well be yes.

And why the hell does this have to happen on a Friday and a month before Christmas?

Really? What the F—!?

 

 

 

Back to Reality.

Day 15. National Blog Posting Month.

Back to life, back to reality. There really is a song for every occasion, isn’t there?

I’m at the airport. Just went through security where I had to take off everything but the shirt off my back.  Seriously – boots, coat, scarf, belt. I joked with the security officer – “Pants and sweater too?”  He didn’t look too pleased.  The gentleman before me was transporting a small cooler that had a large sticker on it, “DO NOT X-RAY”.  OOOH!  Is there an organ in there? I was so tempted to ask.

So, I’ve been in “doctor mode” for the past few days, talking with my friends about patient encounters, tossing stories back and forth about the difficult patients. I haven’t had to put on the “mommy” hat or the “wife” hat and if I’m honest with myself I have to admit that the break has been nice.  Husband is exhausted – I can hear it in his texts.  The “mommy” hat will go on the second I open that car door and here, “Mommy!!!  Hi Mommy!!!”  I can’t wait to see the kids. While I didn’t really miss them per se, I did miss seeing their little faces.  I feel refreshed despite still coughing up a lung (stupid bronchitis!) every now and then. I’m ready to put on the other hats.  I’m just going to enjoy this last few hours of quiet contemplation.

See you tomorrow!