Tuesday, February 14, 2017


I'm feeling a little bit overwhelmed lately.  I know no one can "have it all", but I've always felt like I could have . . . a lot.  Or perhaps enough.  Lately, however, life feels like an endless stream of choices -- choices that I don't particularly want to make.  Read or get enough sleep.  Connect with friends and family or give the kids full attention in the evenings.  Write a blog post or spend time with Josh.  Give this patient lots of time, or spend time researching about another case.  I am constantly asking myself: can I really take the time to focus on this?  Will I be able to get everything done without disappointing anyone (including myself)?  I feel . . .uneasy.

I am on call, so I suppose my emotions may be amplified and my perspective skewed.  It also does not help that the kids have been sleeping less consistently than usual -- not sure what's up with that.  This morning, they were both up at 5:15.  My little slice of contemplation/workout time disappeared and even though I enjoyed doing a V-day treasure hunt with them (family tradition!) I would have appreciated it if we had gotten started a little later.  Like maybe 1.5 or 2 hours later.

I am organized.  I am not distracted by intrusive thoughts about things I may have forgotten.  Everything is laid out for me to see in my planner, and I know what is on my plate.  I outsource (a lot!).  But sometimes it just feels like too much.  I WANT time to read every day, time to meditate, time to eat without rushing (in a social setting, ideally), time to get all of work done in a focused-but-not-harried way, time to work out, time to spend uninterrupted and focused with the kids, and also with Josh.  Sprinkle in time to blog a few times per week (my only creative pursuit!), time with friends, and time to do other misc household chores that aren't outsource-able -- and even though I know 168 hours sounds really like a lot, I guarantee what I'd LIKE to do would fill at least 250.  Every week. 

What can I do?  I'm hanging on.  I decided to grab this little 30 minute window for myself to write this post -- even though I'm on call and I have 39873 charts to do and people to call.  I am planning on coming home late-ish (maybe 7:30?) tonight, so I guess I'm stealing it from A&C.  I am trying (TRYING) to be present in the time I have, not waste time scrolling Instagram -- although to be honest, I am failing at that, because when I do get random bits of time they seem to come in 3 minute unpredictable fragments, and Instagram is particularly delicious in those little snippets (aaaaand then sometimes 3 minutes become 30).  I am also trying to be kind to myself, and not hang onto unrealistic expectations -- like the ones above.

I am not trying to invite pity.  That would be gross!  Like: "OMG, that woman with a great job and family and friends and a hundred different interests and goals -- it's just such a SHAME she can't find time to do them all!".  NO.  I recognize that this whole post comes from a place of privilege.  It's almost like I just want more life.  MORE than the hours I already am so lucky to be living in. There are so many people I'd like to spend more time with, places I'd like to go, things I'd like to do.  And I'm coming to terms with the fact that it's all finite.  That shouldn't be news, but I think it's easy to forget.  

School pix!

V-day treasure hunting

❤️ valentine surprise!




Friday, February 10, 2017

updates and happy weekend


WHEW.  It has been a week.  On the downside, the kids have been sleeping like $(*&@# (both a little sick, including some fun wheezing for C).  On the upside, C has been using the potty like a champ!  Woohoo!!

I am on call and planning on a late-ish night at work, but wanted to take a quick break to check in first.

Random updates:
Running:  I ran a 5K last weekend and placed 3rd in my age group!!  I ran 24:40 or 7:56/mi which is not exactly blazing but I was very happy to be sub-8.  I am definitely getting a little bit faster than I was a few months ago.  I love that about running - seeing/feeling improvements is just so much fun and rewarding.  I know I will have to adjust my expectations as I get older (and older . . .) but I don't think I'll ever tire of picking a goal and going for it.  Also, running endorphins are real.  I am so much happier when I run.

Kids:  I registered A for kindergarten.  KINDERGARTEN.  It was traumatic, honestly.  She will be going to the same (public) elementary school that Josh went to, which is pretty crazy!  Apparently there is a lot of homework.  I am concerned but . . .we'll just have to see how it goes!

Excellent podcasts episodes of late:
We may have to consider an allowance for the kids soon!

Because I love the band Real Estate, and loved them even more after this podcast.

Though this had the side effect of making me feel like I should go vegetarian (for ethical world-saving reasons) even though I actually do not WANT to.  But maybe I could go somewhat veg.

Work:  On call.  Not feeling too stressed out yet.  Maybe this will be the week I find call zen . . .




Tuesday, February 07, 2017

reader mailbag!

Reader Mail:
Hi Sarah, I'm a long time reader but have never commented before. I'm a Mom to a toddler and pediatric resident (aka I always have at least a low grade viral illness) and have been struggling more and more with this notion of doctors never being allowed to take a sick day. Your forays with mindfulness resonate with me strongly, and I feel like not taking care of ourselves is so counterintuitive to this. I'd love to say I have the energy to change the culture from the ground up, but mostly I just need to go to bed. Any thoughts are appreciated! -lily 

Hi Lily!  Toddler-mothering + residency - that is no joke; I actually never experienced that combo but it sounds very very tough.  I support going to bed :)  No, in all seriousness, I agree that sometimes the expectations are ridiculous.  I also feel they are not always the best for patients!  And as a physician you can't win either way -- if you move appointments, people complain (and I get it, it is hard to arrange your schedule ahead of time and then have it change last minute!) and if you come in sick people complain that you could be exposing their children to viral ($*&@# (and probably sometimes the SAME people, because some people just like to complain).

Anyway.  There's no easy answer.  And in my case, my schedule is quite tight currently so there's also internal pressure.  If I call in sick on a weekday, I have a dozen patients that I then need to find slots for, and I have zero slots for months unless I overbook.  And if I overbook, I have a hard time getting home to my kids which for me is a non-negotiable.  So I am also internally motivated to grind out the day unless I am truly TRULY unable to function (has only happened once so far in my post-training job, when I had a concussion after hitting my head and needing stitches last April!).  However, my cancellation threshold might actually change when I go 4 days/week (April 1!!!) because I could just put those slots onto one of my days off.

I think that in your case, while you can't change culture from the ground up, you can still create your own personal culture.  Work hard, take good care of your patients, but take care of yourself, too.  It may be wise to have a pop-off valve in your schedule IF you are the primary caregiver for your child/children (ie no partner with flexible hours) so that you can confidently cancel patients when you truly need to and not have to worry about the aftermath.  

I will say that after residency / fellowship you DO have more autonomy!  My office managers have never pressured me to come in sick.  You can also do trades if it's a call issue -- if I'm dying, I will ask to trade (never just for 'coverage' - I believe call should always be a 1:1 trade and I don't like owing anyone anything!).  

Others in medical (or non-medical) fields - thoughts?  

- training report
- 2017 planner system thus far - Feb report