Just Why?

This morning I dragged two very cranky children to daycare kicking and screaming. I was running late after fighting with them…potty, dressing, cough medication…and before it was over with each of us was crying, for different reasons. My daughter wanted her blankie. My son wanted to NOT go to “school”. Me, I just wanted to stop feeling like the worst mother ever.

How many other women lived this today?

By the time I got to the office, my first patient had been roomed. Running late REALLY stresses me out. I spent a minute or two trying to choke back the tears and frustration, because let’s face it, no one wants to hear about their doctor’s problems and then ran into the room apologizing and smiling, praying the bloodshot eyes were not terribly noticeable.

Then, my next three patients did not show up.

This does not happen often. Usually I am terribly overbooked, so when I get a no show, I feel…lost. For a whole hour and fifteen minutes I had no patients! I used the time to get caught back up on all of the charting and paperwork that I am responsible for, but in the back of my mind the frustration was mounting. This morning I had felt as if I had incarcerated my children in some awful foreign gulag with strangers that would surely torture them given the opportunity. My son had begged and pleaded with me, sobbing, to stay “Just one more minute, mommy!” My daughter stared at me accusingly with pain in her eyes as big, wet tears of sadness rolled down her cheeks. Why? So I could go to work and do nothing. Never mind the fact that these missing patients may have had mornings like mine, or worse.

I started fantasizing about quitting my job, becoming a stay at home mom. My student loans are paid off. I could do that. For a year.

Then the self pity started. No one understands what I go through every day to be here. They don’t know that I worked all while pregnant, praying that I did not go into labor early because I could not find a locum to cover my practice. They don’t understand when I have to take a day off for family emergencies or a long overdue vacation so I don’t go crazy or for studying to retake my boards (yeah, another ten years gone by). No one cares how little sleep I get, how many hours I work on charting from home, or how hurt I get when a patient gets ugly with me, or that when they are calling the “on call doctor” that I may be in the middle of cleaning up toddler vomit. Blah, blah, blah.

I need to tell someone!

The truth is that I think we all want our physicians to have it all together. Give me an illusion of a capable individual who has everything in hand any day. Particularly if you are going to be operating on me. I don’t want to know that your are frustrated with your kids or your spouse right before you cut me open to resect my colon cancer. Or before you do a pelvic exam. Or talk to me about my depression.

The afternoon was a whirlwind, running from one room to the next, and kept me from thinking any more until now. The kids are fed and in bed and peace has returned to the house, and to my heart. As I hold my daughter’s little hands as she is drifting off to sleep I remember these important things:

Children make your life terribly complicated. But they also make enduring the other crap in your life much more worthwhile.

A hug and a kiss and an “I love you, Mommy!” can make it all go away better than a martini. Most days. Sometimes I still need that martini. Just not as often.

Being a physician is an honor and a privilege and worth working hard at. I wrestle daily with motherhood and work and how to balance it all. Sometimes I feel guilty that I find my job so fulfilling. Then a patient says, “Thank you!” and gives me a hug and I find peace again.

And now….

The dishes are not going to wash themselves!

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15 thoughts on “Just Why?

  1. I had to come back to the very beginning. I was intrigued to know how/why you started this blog – and to find out that it was because you described feeling what I feel every day… it’s relieving, in a way. I know I’ve told you how much I enjoy your blog 🙂 I wish I could learn to speak to as many people as you do!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well. That was a surprise! You sort of start thinking that things are lost in cyberspace after a point. Rereading this post now… Reminds me how much I felt I would burst if I just did not get the words out. I am so glad that I stumbled upon you and your blog. People are listening to you, too. Show them how strong you are.

      Liked by 1 person

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  3. I hope someday physicians will disabuse themselves of the false notion that they are somehow above or apart or different than the rest of us. Dogged determination, stamina, a good memory and aptitude for solving problems are not super-human powers — well, maybe the stamina. I don’t know where this mindset originated except maybe in the minds of male doctors when they dominated the field. I hope with so many woman in medicine we’ll see a shift to reality. Your speak honesty through your blog and it’s refreshing to hear.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for reading and for understanding. I see the same demands being made of women in other fields, too. Some of my worst task masters were other female physicians. We need to be kinder and more understanding to each other. I find myself getting upset when my own staff has to leave to take care of sick kids because it is a terrible inconvenience for myself and for patients. It takes reminding myself each day that their struggles are MY struggles to keep that task master in myself at bay, and sometimes I will admit that I am not very successful. At any rate, thank you so, so much for reading! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m sure the balancing act of parenting and one’s career is difficult. I hear it often from my elders, especially in entrepreneurial fields. You want to be there for them at all times, but you also understand the desire to provide for them in the best way you know how. In the end, life is about finding a balance, so I wish you well in this pursuit of creating an ideal balance.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for liking my post – most especially because it led me to your blog – I’m so glad you share the emotional side of what its like to be a physician. It’s important for those of us who aren’t physicians to read. You sound like a fabulous one as well as mother.

    Liked by 1 person

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