Saturday, October 29, 2016

call notes / taking a deep breath


I'm on call this weekend.  There are 52 weekends in a year (well, actually 52.5 this year + next year! Neither 365 nor 366 are evenly divisible by 7).  I am on call for 10 to 11 of them.  

Therefore, call is a part of life.  Not a huge part, but a sizeable chunk.  It's not disposable or insignificant.  And the truth is that it's not even that stressful when I'm doing it!  I'm not stuck in the hospital.  I am not (usually) woken up multiple times throughout the night.  I do have to round, write notes, see a handful of patients, and answer emergency phone calls.  On a more strenuous day, I can still typically finish rounding by early afternoon.

It sounds fairly reasonable, doesn't it?  That's because IT IS.  I know that physicians love to be martyrs.  And many of them are working very high volume hours with a huge amount of stress during those hours.  Josh, for example, was at the hospital until 3 am last night.

I was on call, but slept peacefully until my alarm woke me up -- not a patient (or a kid, for that matter).

I am still a 'real' doctor.  I care about my patients very much.  I try my very best while I am at work. But I do tend to compartmentalize and shut off my 'work brain' after 5 pm most days.  Truth:  I have no desire to work long hours.  I chose my specialty and my work situation very deliberately.  There is nothing martyr-like about my life.  I want to have kid time, family time, me time, workout time.  I want to manage our household and be home for dinner with the kids.  And I really actually can say that I LOVE my balance* most of the time.  Except when on call, when I become stressed out for no real reason at all.  I think it's a control issue -- I can't set the schedule or know when an urgent consult might come in.  I tend to get very ornery with Josh, eat total crap (somehow I feel like I'm "allowed" on call -- holdover from residency??), and have a strong urge to just scrolllllllllll mindlessly until the time passes.  To numb my anxiety and pass the time?  I suppose.

But I have GOT to learn to get past this stress.  I may very well have hundreds of call weekends ahead of me.  This weekend has been a pleasant mix of home+work life thus far, and there is no reason it won't continue to be.  I mapped out a plan for the weekend and so far it is falling into place.  I am cozy in my new office, done with patient notes and writing this post.  I am about to go home to the kids.  Life is good.  

Here's to taking a deep breath every time my phone rings and accepting call as a normal part of life, not one to be hated/endured/gotten through.  Someday I believe I will get there!

* Or mix, or mosaic, or matrix, or whatever you want to call it; apparently the word 'balance' has fallen out of favor