Taking care of ourselves
We, as modern-day Americans, are way too busy. We work ridiculous hours; we overschedule our kids; we overcommit ourselves.
Not a clinic session goes by without at least one of my patients describing how they feel stressed, anxious, depressed, or worse. They have panic attacks, insomnia, headaches, and/or irritable bowels. They grind their teeth, tense up their neck and shoulders, forget to drink water, drink too much wine.
A big part of my job is to tell people that they need to stop. They need to prioritize self-care. They need to create balance.
Exercise. Eat healthily. Sleep. Cut down on the wine/ marijuana/ chocolate. Do yoga/ meditate/ get therapy/ go to church. Whatever wears away the soul, don’t do it. Whatever restores the soul, do it.
So. The past two weeks I needed to heed my own advice. Despite the fact that I purposefully work part-time, I got way out of balance. Stressed. Tense. Irritable.
How? Hubby was traveling for 10 days; work has been especially demanding in general and even particularly unpleasant at times; and baby is not sleeping through the night. Combine that with an adorable but very active/ mischievous toddler, and the usual stuff of life (sick elderly grandmother in the hospital; troubled nephew in jail; et cetera) and I found myself becoming exactly that patient who needs to stop.
A difficult, verbally abusive patient set me over the edge. I had a bit of a meltdown at work. The situation was handled, the patient is gone, but the episode prompted me to voice my other concerns… like, I’m drowning.
Every hour of clinic seems to generate another hour of work: documenting the visits; reading up on what I’m seeing (learning about the treatment of cellulitis/ perichondritis of the pinna, or Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, or reviewing hypertension management AGAIN, for example); labs and radiology results to check and address; consultations to review; specialists to email or page; answering emails from patients with questions (“Do you think the IUD is a good choice for me, or should I get the Pill like all of my friends?” “Why is my white blood cell count 3.8? Do I have an immune deficiency?” “Can I get a prescription for an antidepressant please.”) ; medication refills; phone calls; health forms to fill out; records of new patients to review; plus CME work, and hospital-required patient safety modules…. There’s more, I’m just tired of listing it.
Anyways, my bosses really listened to my issues, and we came up with a plan for temporary relief: I limited my hours during hubby’s travel, I won’t be taking any new patients for awhile, and we’re hiring more MA’s to help with the slog of paperwork.
A far as the managing the kids solo, luckily, thankfully, I have a great support system. and had enough help from my mom/ my aunt/ the neighbors/ my church that I didn’t end up curled in the fetal position on the bathroom floor moaning “I give up!” Hubby came home and took over the 3 a.m. bottle feeds. Grandma came home from physical rehab and is doing great.
The past two days, I actually have gotten some exercise. I’m getting a little more sleep. I’m back to eating fruit and yogurt and salads and veggies and it feels really good. I managed not to gain weight. I’m feeling more tolerant, somewhat calm, and grateful.
Grateful that hubby doesn’t have to travel again anytime soon!