Jumping Back In

  

I had big dreams as a kid. Somehow I just knew I was gonna be somebody when I grew up. I wanted it so badly that I could feel the ache in my toes, the gnawing in my gut… every single day.

Medical school became a reality and I figured I was well on my way. 

After residency, I started a job with a large group of physicians. Within two years I was elected to the executive committee (essentially the clinic’s governing body). A year later I was on the hospital’s quality committee, the hospital executive committee, and then was elected Chief of Family Practice. I was on the Patient Satisfaction committee for the entire system and helped make system wide policy. I had plans. I wanted more. Chief of staff? Board of directors? Yes, please.

Then I got pregnant. 

Pregnancy was NOT in the plan. I never, ever saw myself as a mother. I did not understand those women who were and regarded them generally with scorn and suspicion. I knew that to BE somebody by my current definition I could not also be a mother. If there was one thing medical school taught me, it was how babies were made. I was on the pill and by golly I took it religiously. I tried to avoid sex as much as a married woman could and required the use of condoms whenever I could not.

But that one damn night… 

All it takes is once, folks. Get a little cocky, a little careless, let love/lust get in the way of rational thinking and BAM! You are changing poopy diapers.

I put the positive test in the top drawer of my desk. For weeks between patients I would peek into the drawer and stare at the pink line feeling the panic well up from my uterus.

What was I going to do?

At the time I was practicing both inpatient and outpatient adult medicine and pediatrics. I was there for meconium deliveries and ICU admits at all hours of the night. I worked many Saturdays doing the acute care clinic when I was not on call at the hospital. Then, there were all of those committee meetings.

How would I breast feed? How could I work a sixteen hour day on my feet while 39 weeks pregnant? What about a sick baby or sick toddler? Childcare?

So I walked away from it all. 

I moved to another clinic where I would only do outpatient medicine. I gave up my hospital privileges and committees and meetings and ambitions. I was no longer the Chief of Family Practice. 

At first it felt odd. 

Empty. 

Disconcerting. 

But when my son was born, there was no question I had made the right decision. Evolutionarily speaking, this is why babies are so cute. They HAVE to be to survive. My definition of who I was shifted and interestingly I was at peace with that. 

Mostly.

I hate just griping and complaining. This blog is therapeutic but I like being involved in a solution. Doing something instead of merely pacing the floor, wringing my hands. Now that my kids are older I am ready to get into it all again, just not to the level I was before.

Last year I applied to join the EHR (electronic health record) committee for the system only to find out my arch nemesis was now the gate keeper for all system wide committees. I promptly received a rejection letter hand signed by him with what appeared to be extra flourish (I admit I may have imagined that extra flourish) and I resigned myself to staying involved only at the clinic level until he retired at some unforeseen date many years in the future.

Then, an email…

An invitation to join an EHR subcommittee arrived in my inbox last week. Just like that, I am back in the game. Section chief? Board of directors? President of the system? Nah. I don’t want any of that anymore. I just want my voice back. 

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104 thoughts on “Jumping Back In

  1. I relate so, so very much to everything in this post, though my field is different. A couple of sentences in particular jumped out at me:

    I hate just griping and complaining. This blog is therapeutic but I like being involved in a solution. Doing something instead of merely pacing the floor, wringing my hands.

    I, too, want to seek solutions. Once in a while griping is important to finding my way toward solutions, but griping ad nauseum solves nothing and creates all kinds of … anti-momentum. It’s the antithesis to moving things toward being tolerable, and then someday genuinely better.

    I’m so excited about my new job because of how much room there is to succeed and influence things in a billion different ways. There’s not one version of success. I get to dream the things I’d like to do and find a way to do them, all in a company that understands I need time to myself and time to take care of my family to be the most effective I can be in my position.

    My life is not what I imagined, but … that’s because it’s much, much better than what I’d dreamed, even with the kids climbing all over me in what they know is the one three-foot circle that’s supposed to be mine in the house. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations! The fact that ‘an invitation’ arrived…does that mean that the nemesis is changing heart, or that he may be on the way out, or are you seriously being recognized as a person of character and ability and someone basically told him to go sit in a corner and keep quiet because you are needed and wanted for this position? I am so encouraged by this step because you do have a powerful voice and it makes me happy and excited that you will have a place to begin really using it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wish I knew what prompted the change of heart. Some odd things have been going on this week and I am not sure what it all means…. I hope I don’t make a fool out of myself. Writing is easier because you can spend tons of time editing. Spoken words… Once they are out of your mouth you cannot really take them back!

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Good for you if that’s what you want. I often think about what it would be like if I had to pick up my career again, and I have to say it gives me grave misgivings. Of course I’m likely at a different stage in my life than you are in yours, and I’m not a doctor, which might make a difference. Actually, I envy you a bit in that you obviously enjoyed that aspect of your work so much that you’re eager to start again. Me, I was in the newspaper business for more than 30 years, and when a big event was happening, there was no place I’d rather be than in the newsroom. After I quit, I remember the day when Osama bin Laden was killed, and how ordinarily upon hearing that news, I’d have been racing to get to work. But on that morning, I had no desire to do so, and was well-content to sit back and let others sweat. That’s how I knew that I’d made the right decision, and barring some calamity, I’ll never go back. If you have the desire, it must be sated, so it’s right for you. Without that burning in your heart, a job, a career becomes nothing but a bothersome chore. From the way you’ve written about your own desire, you’re making the right decision.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I had ambitions of moving up the ranks where I work but then quickly realized that, though I would love the opportunity to effect change, my demeanor of impatience and abrasiveness would disqualify me from working with most people.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. i think this is fabulous. I think you will be and are an epic leader and will do well in the administrative arena. You can really have an impact at least on your local health home. Excellent. I smile because I used to want it all too. I have climbed as high as I want…. and soon (a few years) it will be time to let it all go.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh my God, I could relate to this post.

    It’s amazing how our lives go through multiple changes, some planned, others – not so much. And yes, I’m old enough now to realize that we seem to end up somewhat where we started. Just a lot older and little bit wiser. As our children get older and more independent, we start to rediscover ourselves again.

    Best wishes on this new stage of your life πŸ™‚

    … and btw, I have to mention how awesome your photos are in every post. This one made me laugh out loud πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I feel that it really sucks how workplaces in general (and medicine seems really guilty if this) seem to expect people to give up living life in order to pour everything into work. Career mothers especially seem to get pressured to be awesome mothers and be kick ass for so many things at work.

    I hope you can have a balance that allows you to do what you desire without having to feel you’re pulled in all sorts of directions or that you have to sacrifice things you care deeply about!

    Liked by 1 person

    • THAT should be the focus of feminism. Demanding the right to have work-life balance as women. Being mothers is not shameful. It should be accommodated. It really will be difficult to achieve in medicine though. You cannot ask that emergency surgery to reschedule because you have a sick kid…

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Your two children are the best thing that ever happened to you, next to becoming a physician. People look up to you and you are somebody. But most importantly you are the mother of those two precious and very smart humans.

    Good luck on your quest for more opportunities in your profession. I really hope that you keep moving forward and upward.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for sharing! Even though I am so “in the thick” of all the work commitment and parenting, I still feel like I don’t know what the right decision is. I wonder if I will ever make a decision like you did and feel good about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. A very thorough “writ” Victoire. The key is Voice.
    I had my own research company for many years until I joined forces with another, international company, run by an old friend. I presented results to clients all my life. Many many papers in congresses. Founded the local Market Research Association. I had a “Voice”. Then my friend was pushed away. His replacement quickly demonstrated a) he knew nothing about the business, b) I was a direct threat to him. It took about a year of fighting, and we finally reached a settlement. I don’t really need to work to make a living anymore. But you know what? I miss the presentations, the papers at the congresses. The voice I had. πŸ™‚ (T’s all right, I’ve outgrown that) (Maybe) πŸ˜‰
    But you? Do get your voice back. It is a strong, good, determined voice.
    Go for it.
    (I’ll second your motions)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: because who doesn’t want to be versatile? | Riddle from the Middle

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