“I want to change doctors.”
Reviewing her chart before entering the room I could see that she had been asking for this for months. The medical assistant had warned me that she was going to bring it up again.
“Well, I never get to see her when I need to. She’s always out or I have to see the nurse practitioner because she’s too busy. Besides, you were the one recommended to me by several coworkers but you weren’t taking new patients.” She stared at me, accusation in her voice.
“Well, the reason I stopped taking new patients is because the ones that I did have could not get in to see me when they needed it.”
Some days I have open slots that don’t fill. It makes me antsy but I try to remind myself that not overloading the schedule ensures that people can get in if they need to. I want to be able to see them, have a relationship with them, even if it hurts my bottom line. THAT gives me joy.
“….But you should also know that I have kids. Sometimes they get sick. Or I get sick. Or some other emergency pops up…”
“Well, she doesn’t have kids. At least not that I know of.”
In truth she is undergoing a fertility work up, hoping to have kids but it was not my place to tell a patient this without her permission. A woman should have the right to have a child if she wants one, shouldn’t she, even if it inconveniences others.
I agree to take her on as a patient. The very next day:
“I just puked.”
The smell of vomit began to waft through the car. I cracked a window.
“Block my open slots until I can get to the clinic and see what is going on.”
“You don’t HAVE any open slots.”
As my daughter retches again into the plastic sack I know I don’t have a choice. They will all have to be rescheduled. There is no one else that can watch her.
“He’s going to have surgery. I’ll need to be out for at least a week….”
It makes me nauseated to think about it, rescheduling that many people, but it just cannot be helped.
He needs me.
No doubt someone, somewhere is asking to change doctors. Knowing that bothers me on some level but being a mom also brings me joy. My kids deserve a mom who can be present for them. It strikes me that this sort of issue is unique to female physicians. It is partly why we make less money. It is partly why we don’t hold as many leadership positions as our male counterparts.
I choose my kids.
I choose my family.
Meanwhile, I am sitting in a hospital room with my laptop, trying to do as much as I possibly can from here.
That doesn’t make me better. Or worse. Just different.
Or maybe the just same.