Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Million Thoughts

I have a million thoughts that I want to write about, but pretty much no time to do it.

I want to write about my first patient who I cried with.  And how much it sucks to tell someone that their tumors were unresectable.  I want to tell you how emotionally exhausting it is to have four palliative patients on my service right now- who all look to the surgery team for some kind of hope but we've got nothing to do for them.  How I find myself avoiding visiting them, because as soon I step into their room, I feel the full weight of their incredible emotional burden.  I think of the quote alot- "Consider exhaustion a state of having given completely, rather than having been taken from".  When I'm emotionally spent, its because I chose to give my energy, attention and empathy to someone who truly needed it- and remind myself not to feel abused or taken advantage of by the System or the Man.   I want to tell you how emotional exhaustion has pushed me to the edge of what I can handle on a few occasions- resulting in at least one episode of hanging up on one very senior doctor who was treating me like crap when I just had no energy left to be reasonable.

I want to tell you about my patient who asked me if I went into medicine for the money.  And how my first real paycheck adds up to just over $8/hr after taxes.

I want to write about how torn I feel every night when I get home- between relaxing with Danny, reading up on all the things I don't know enough about, showering, having dinner, calling my med school friends, catching up with family, doing the dishes, buying groceries.... and how I only have time for about one of those each night.

I want to share how rewarding it has been to work with my team- how they support whatever decisions I make about patient care, and go out of their way to make me feel appreciated and recognized for all the work I do on the floor while they are in the operating room.

I want to tell you about all my new ideas for my next novel, and how guilty I feel about wanting to spend a hour per night of my already cramped time for Danny and studying holed up in the office writing another silly book.

I'm grateful to have one of my good friends from med school, her husband, and their darling 1 yr old daughter as house guests this weekend.  Pictures to come- I needed a nice relaxed weekend with good friends and it's been awesome so far.


  1. Thanks for sharing the ups and downs via the blogsphere!! From your family fan club (Mom, Dad, Dan and Ben)

    PS- tough as the emotional side is-that is what separates the truly outstanding docs from the rest. You are making a brutal road a bit softer by caring for your patients! correct kept changing blogsphere to blog digger. :-).

  2. You have captured residency so clearly and succinctly in this one post. Your family fan club is right - it is the emotional connection with your patients that will make you a better doctor. Over time, you will learn tools for maintaining that emotional response and that connection without it taking so much of a tole on you. But I think it's good to feel so strongly in the beginning.