Every night, when I go to sleep in my own bed, I am thankful. And when I am not on call, and no one can wake me but my son, I have joy.
Why is it, that my work has become something very odious to my natural way of life? Why is it that I am good at it, one of the best and highly requested anesthesiologists, and yet I lack joy in my day to day schedule?
Two reasons. The first is that I am getting older and my sleep is more important now than when I was in my twenties. This is a normal progression of the anesthesiology profession. Routinely, doctors over age sixty elect not to take call for a cut in pay. The lack of sleep is superimposed on a worsening sleep pattern due to age. (There is less stage 4 or deep sleep).
But the second? It came to me yesterday: anesthesia, at some point, becomes automatic, just like driving an automobile. You do what you do and not think about it. I really love my coworkers. I adore my patients! Even the almost-a-street-person ones. Yesterday I took pictures in the O.R. because it's fun. I like all the images, and want to share them with the outside. The equipment, the lighting, how it is 'a stage' for great healing to occur. While I was taking pictures, I was free. (None of the surgery of course, or the patient). You see, there is a lot that one can do while still monitoring the patient.
Every day of our lives as anesthesiologists is very compressed. There is a book titled, Oxygen, written by a lady anesthesiologist a few years back. She talks about the morning routine, how there are no minutes to spare, and how her niece calls her as she is getting ready for work. That two minutes on the phone is going to make her late for work, but she loves her niece and stays on the phone anyway. How she walks into the O.R. suite at work, sees a jar of candy on the desk, and takes a handful without really thinking. I only read an excerpt that was in the journal Anesthesiology. But she really describes the day-to-day routine better than I could if I try.
I am so lucky and thankful for my job! It suits me better than anything else, besides being a mom. I love being a mom more...but I have to support us, so I work. I accept that I am creative, and I enjoy making things. I enjoy photography, blogging, Reiki and psychic development, cooking, gardening, and taking care of the pets. As I caught up with my journals yesterday, I was struck by how stupid some of the articles were. One was written by a former coworker. What they hoped for as 'super innovative' was fifty-year old chemical engineering technology applied to the patient care setting. Many other articles were looking at minutia, and they represent a lot of time and work on the part of the authors. I laughed because there is a new edition of the textbook of cardiac anesthesia out, Kaplan's. It has an online part and a textbook part together.
The educated are not reading books. The internet has the information that is more up-to-date. Not the website, Up-To-Date, which is pretty terrific if you have to look something up. But by the time a textbook in medicine gets written, edited, and published, a process that takes two years, most of what is in it is not 'new technology'. I wrote a chapter in a book once. It took me forever. And I never got my copy of the book that I was promised. Everyone says I am a good writer, but I get the feeling I am not the best technical writer. I think the editor had someone rewrite mine. And I spent months working on it, for free, to have something to add to my CV (curriculum vitae, a resume if you will for M.D.'s).
Your doctor may not be the happiest person. They will have the knowledge and skills to take care of you. But the business of medicine has pushed away all that autonomy for human interaction, and that doctor has a lot of responsibilities you may not be aware of while you work with them. At the bedside yesterday, while I was waiting for surgery to start and the nurse to help take the patient to the operating room, I caught up on my paper work. 'See, I am writing my preoperative assessment on you, it is like a history and physical. And here, I am writing the orders for all your recovery room time so you will be comfortable.' She looked shocked. She had no clue I have to write anything! I should show her my anesthesia record, a flowchart with every drug given and every five minute's worth of her vital signs, and with narrative of how the anesthetic course went! We all went into medicine with a love and a passion. And now it is work. Just like for you and your occupation. Work.
Reiki can help make that spark of humanity come back again. It is all attitude, all how you embrace Life. Yesterday, I had a patient with an accent. Medically, what we call a Train Wreck. But a human nonetheless. The accent was from New Hampshire, where my dad was from. We chatted a bit. And I think that chat was more important for this individual than any of the medicine we were set to do for them. As it turned out, the surgeon shared that this patient had been lost to follow up, and that they had walked around with a stone in the ureter for a year. The stone was there but did not show up on x-ray. Another urologist had seen the stent, pulled it, and given pills to alkalinize the urine to make it dissolve. The patient came back to the first urologist once they were in pain. What caused this? Lack of education. Fear. Denial. If there had been Reiki on board in the first place, those needs would have been addressed. Why? Because 'kindness is the language the deaf can hear and the blind can see'--Mark Twain.
So, even though I have to work, I have a short day. A late start. I have been a whole week without O.B. call! I got to write, and I am looking forward to using my elliptical (a doctor's time is so tight, they have to exercise at home. There is no time for going to a gym.) I would have liked to go out for bagels for breakfast, but my son wants 'hot lunch' at school, pizza friday special. So I am cutting back on carbs for him. We'll eat in. he is not going to like it, but that's being a parent! I have a weekend off (except I work the MLK day Monday which is not a holiday in my O.R.)
Everything is before me. I have only to step into it to enjoy my brand new day. What are you going to do with the Time that has been given you?