Better Than That…


“I have GOT to see the doc. I have an awful boil right here…” He pointed to his left buttock.

It was 5PM. This patient, who had just driven forty minutes from his house to my clinic, had popped in the front door just as the front desk clerk was getting up to lock it.

“I’m sorry, sir. She is leaving for the day.”

“What? You mean I drove all this damn way and you are refusing to see me?”

“Sir, we had no idea you were coming…”

“Is she still here? I want to see her and have her say that she is refusing to see me to my face.”

Voices rose. The patient started shouting.

I waddled to the front. I was nine months pregnant with my daughter. My son was with the sitter and she had somewhere she absolutely had to be. I could not take even the extra 20 minutes to get this fellow incised and drained and on his way. I was already late after working someone else in at the last minute.

I had no choice.

I had to look him in the eye and tell him he was going to have to drive to the ER or the nearby acute care facility to have it addressed.

“Fine! I am going to find another goddamn doctor!” He stormed out, slamming the door.

And he did.

Do I want to be treated as an equal? No. I want to be treated better than that. I want my unique role as an employed caregiver to be recognized, honored, and accommodated.

But most days it just isn’t.

I am luckier than most women, though. I have resources others don’t.

Every day hundreds of thousands of women in the workforce are facing the decision to suffer their employer’s wrath or stay home with a sick kid.

Of eight support staff in my clinic of three physicians, three of those staff members are out with sick children today. That creates some serious hurtin’ in my world.

Why do I always hire young, single women with little kids?!?!!

I sent my son to school yesterday sick. Not contagious sick. Sick with asthma sick. I knew he was starting to not feel well and yet I still sent him on. When I picked him up yesterday evening, he was so short of breath he couldn’t even talk. A breathing treatment and some steroids helped but I felt like a terrible mom, choosing my patients and my job over my own kiddo.

It is a struggle every single dang day.


65 thoughts on “Better Than That…

  1. Oh, my gosh. I hear this. When one of the kid’s teachers recently reported he had a cough, I only barely avoided a tirade. I love this teacher, but … there’s also a reality that with one sick day a week the three weeks prior, more sick days could have been very harmful. And if I held back my kids for each cough? They would be home more often than not some months.

    It feels all matter of fact at the moment, but I know that same situation will greet me again before long. I know I am lucky to so far have found reasonably accommodating employers. And yet … it’s never a guarantee, and that uncertainty is painful especially in light of my childhood recalled.

    Ugh, how I wish it were easier.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes. It. Is. Or at least it was for me until I made some changes. It’s difficult to not have the flexibility in a job to be able to be home with a sick child. It’s especially difficult when we have clinical jobs with a schedule full of patients. Hopefully our spouses have more flexibility. That helps lower the stress level.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kids… then they hit teens, they go out and you lay awake in bed waiting; then they leave home altogether and you miss them; and then you grow old, and thank goodness you had them because there’s no one else left to look after you!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You’re doing well; don’t think like that. Guilt is the worse enemy one can feed as it eats you alive. We’re all fallible and this is no mistake.
    From what I read here you’re a pretty good doctor and even better human being.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. On my daughter 10th or 11th hospitalization (before they finally figured out what was wrong), I mentioned to her pediatrician that I could lose my job by staying with her at the hospital (she was LITTLE, for heaven’s sake, and the nurses were so very overburdened). The pediatrician was incensed – he asked me what kind of place I worked that they wouldn’t let a mother stay with her sick child. I had to tell him that I worked for the very attorneys he used for his practice’s legal matters. I don’t know if anything ever got back to the law firm, but things did seem to lighten up a bit after that.

    I’m sorry, employers of the world – family comes first, no matter what.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The bar for staying home from school at home was pretty high for me when I was growing up in the 1960s (I did skip a lot of school, but parental consent was not required.) So I went with sniffles, sore throats, coughs. To my knowledge, I did not kill anybody with my illnesses. But today I can manage to get myself up and to work on those days when I would rather roll over. I think it is important to work through it. When they’re seriously ill? Contagious? That is when they stay home. Especially kids with chronic conditions, I think. They need to learn how to do it, sadly. Because our world is less and less tolerant.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sadly you are so right. However, I will say that towards the end of my career I stopped to some extent being forced to make choices between my safety, my family and my job. Fortunately, my mom lived close by and most of the time she could care for my daughter when she was ill. But then there were days, I had to take off and care for her myself, a decision I never regretted.
    In your line of work, you can’t call in substitutes though and that makes that an even bigger problem. I was told once when I was sick as a dog and throwing up that I had to come in anyway because there were no more subs.
    I’m sorry that man treated you like that or that anyone else does for that matter. I faced my fair share of irate parents as well, some who definitely wanted a piece of my rear end. Hugs, N ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    As patients we tend to look no further than the white coat and the stethoscope. Once we see that we can surrender to the cloak of authority those two accessories give to a person we probably do not know or might ever meet again. However, if you follow Victo Dolore you will get to know the person Behind the White Coat… a human being with all the usual stuff that we have to deal with on a daily basis as well as taking on the woes of countless others… so in line with today’s theme on kindness… perhaps next time you are going to the doctor (provided you are not in a life threatening situation) what about asking first ‘How are you today Doctor?’


  9. A working mom, whether she is a doctor or in whatever career, is still a mom. It’s not easy but women struggle with too sick vs. should-be-okay.
    I agree a little flexibility helps but many women don’t get any sympathy from their employer. You are NOT a bad mom.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: My Article Read (11-18-2014) (11-19-2014) | My Daily Musing

  11. β€œIs she still here? I want to see her and have her say that she is refusing to see me to my face.”

    He said that as if he owned the place. Lol. Wow. Do you find your children use your time away as a weapon yet? I know of issues where they begin saying things like, “You don’t love me anyhow. All you do is work.” I saw this in both preteens and teenagers. As an adult, I hear some finally admitting that they understand why the parents had to work

    Liked by 1 person

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