No Time For Life


“You are up twenty-five pounds since your last visit three months ago…. Is everything OK?”

The woman on the exam table was texting away furiously, trying to get the last word in with some unknown specter. It would haunt her, so I waited patiently while she wrapped it up.

“Doc, I can’t. I just can’t.” She shifted in her seat uncomfortably, clearly exasperated. “I just don’t have time.” Her phone buzzed again and she went back to texting.

“Why don’t you tell me about it.”

She looked up, surprised. “You know…. Work. The kids. Life. We have karate, soccer, ballet, gymnastics. Church on Sunday. Church on Wednesday. I just don’t have time for exercise or for cooking healthy.”

“But you have diabetes.” I motioned for her to put the phone down, offering to put it up in her purse for her. She gave it up, reluctantly.

“I know. I’ll try to do better next time.” She said it without commitment.

“Are your kids going to earn college scholarships or go professional with their activities? Truthfully?”

“Uh, no,” she admitted.

“In the long run, what is going to be more valuable for your kids? Those activities? Or you.”

“But they enjoy those things!”

The phone vibrated loudly in the corner. She glanced over at it anxiously.

“They probably don’t enjoy it as much as you think and given the choice between hanging with you and kicking a ball around on a field, they would rather be with you.” She looked thoughtful. I was reaching her maybe. I went in for the kill. “Look, cut back on the crap. Teach your kids how to eat healthy and be healthy so when they are your age they are not sitting here having this same conversation with their doctor. Diabetes is partly genetic, as you already know…”

We went on to have a lengthy conversation about diet and exercise and counting calories and kids and life.

She left, head bent over her smartphone, typing as she walked.

She almost ran into the wall.

At the end of the day, after a hospital admission and a few emergency calls, I was running terribly behind myself. I grabbed my kids from school late and ordered a pizza on the way home. I buried myself in blogging between bites as we ate. That was the third fast food dinner that week.

Three months later, she had not lost any weight and neither had I.

Doctor, heal thyself.

The hypocrite in me says these rules don’t apply to my own life.

But they do.

So this weekend I turned off the push notifications on my blog. I cooked more. I played more. Exercised. I cried some. Working again on that work/life balance that can be so elusive at times…


76 thoughts on “No Time For Life

  1. I bought my first cell phone a few years back. The instruction booklet said “By now everyone knows how to use a cell phone, so we’ll simply tell you what’s new”. I still don’t know how to turn it off!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. My family doctor makes everyone turn the cell phones off the minute they walk in the front door. Patients can always pick up the voicemail or text messages after the visit, and I would assume that should there be a true emergency, most family members would know where the patient was and could call the doctor’s office directly. Sitting in the exam room and texting while the doctor is talking is just plain rude.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. The balance is so hard. I know how much exercise I need, but I don’t get it unless I just get up and walk away from my computers. Hey. Maybe that would work with your patients:

    Patient (busy texting): Hmmm? What?

    You (leaving): I’m going for a run.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I like the one comment that says “get away from my computers” – plural – that’s me too. I have wondered how you as a busy doctor manage to write so many wonderful posts and still have time for your family. Since I live in a very rural area in the high Sierras, I can honestly used the ‘no signal’ excuse for not using the technology, and still only manage posts once a week (maybe). But even in the high elevations, I still pull out my phone for elevation and hiking apps. Catch 22. Keep up the good work, but say no once in a while! I promise to not complain about fewer posts!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I do most of my writing at night, which I schedule for the next day. I keep several posts that i am working on at a time. But this blogging has admittedly become much bigger than I expected much faster than I expected. I am humbled and honored but learning when to shut it off and back away is hard for an overacheiver… πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Good for you. 33% of my weight gain is attributable to my bipolar meds. That’s no fun. I gain weight regardless of what I do to lose it. I try, more than ever, not to be too terribly judgmental toward those carrying a few extra pounds. You never really know someone else’s story until you hear it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I did the same thing this weekend. I went to a productivity seminar for our resident retreat. While most of the things I can’t really apply to my life (because how much control do I really have over my work life), the one thing I did take away from it was to not let technology rule me. So I stopped carrying around my phone. It was hard, but I think I had more fun too!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Your post about always being in a rush and not really enjoying oneҀ™s life brought the following poem to mind:

    Leisure William Henry Davies

    What is this life if, full of care,We have no time to stand and stare.No time to stand beneath the boughsAnd stare as long as sheep or cows.No time to see, when woods we pass,Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.No time to see, in broad daylight,Streams full of stars, like skies at night.No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,And watch her feet, how they can dance.No time to wait till her mouth canEnrich that smile her eyes began.A poor life this if, full of care,We have no time to stand and stare.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I wonder if that is the same woman who I had years ago who would not remove her phone from her hands during a massage she was getting. 2 hours later there was an “official policy” posted about no cell phones. I don’t have the problem with phones but I have several other “do as I say not as I do” things. At least right now I’m not practicing so that somewhat mitigates my hypocrisy or human-being-ness.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great post. Has she changed her lifestyle?

    When someone is not afraid to admit to their “faults,” but also accountability, they are A-okay in my book. Lol. When it comes to core reason people do not perform strength training/cardio, and of course a healthier eating lifestyle, it comes back to our willingness to commit. I made the excuses, and they were excuses I heard from others. My lifestyle changed during the third semester of college.

    I developed a training system, with the help of my brother and countless Flex and Muscle & Fitness bodybuilding magazines. I train five days a week and shifted my meals to consist of lean protein, fibrous carbs and starchy carbs–the most classic eating system in bodybuilding. My life changed–more energy, etc. When we returned back to the country after our wedding, we got our first place together as a couple. We mutually decided on a rule at the dinner table…no cell phones. Lol. It has been a great addition. All the best to you guys.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I cannot distance myself from my phone too much, as I need to be reachable pretty much 24/7… the nature of the job. BUT, I can distance myself from the blogging bit (turning off push alerts has been GREAT!). As for changing your diet and lifestyle, good for you! For patients it is a gradual, step by step process. Some change. Some don’t. It is a process! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • I definitely understand. It’s a long journey, to change one’s lifestyle. But a beautiful one to witness. A friend of mine, she lost about 70lbs. It’s such a blessing seeing her motivated daily to eat better and train harder

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I turned off push notifications for everything a couple of months ago. At first, I checked my phone almost minutely. Now, I kind of enjoy the peace of the quiet. Doing that opens up a lot of daily time.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m happy to hear that you’re being candid with your patients. It seems most doctors have given up on giving people lifestyle advice. Sure, they’ll say, “You need to lose weight.” A two second bit that they don’t expect to sink in. Then they write out the prescriptions and move on.

    While you call yourself a hypocrite, this post shows that you’re capable of being candid with yourself too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Physicians are overwhelmed with all of the other demands on them now, but they are selling themselves and their patients short by not investing the time discussing these issues. It really is incredibly rewarding getting to know my patients on that level and discussing lifestyles. Fortunately, it also works to keep me humble. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  12. This kind of honesty is why, between a full time job, and my family, and church, and attending to my own creativity and sanity (two entirely different things) I try my best to not miss your blog. Thank you.

    I’m a Type-II diabetic and it’s HARD to get that A1C down. But those who love us need us more than what we do for them.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I know it’s already been said, but I too, very much appreciate your honesty. Cell phones and blogging can be addictive, like so many other things. I had to have a program to lose weight and I had to pray. I’m getting back to that right now, and I just posted about my plan, because I don’t want the pounds to creep up any further. Best wishes to us all!

    Liked by 1 person

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