It’s getting super close to vacation. How do I know? Because I’m this close to losing my mind due to crazy Day Job. That’s typically the indicator light, warning me that it’s time to get away for a while. Sure enough, Day Job stupidity is about to make me lose my mind.
Image by Kenji Yamamoto on flickr.
The grass is always greener elsewhere, you say? Of course it is. But that’s not the point of today’s blog. The purpose of today’s blog is as an indulgent compare and contrast time for Day Job (medicine) vs. Night Job (writing). Let us commence the therapeutic hyperbole, for I have 20 more patients to see on Monday and then I am On Vacation. (Why Monday and not Friday before? Well. Yeah. I never claimed to be a genius.)
Day Job = Miracle of life (baby)
Night Job = Miracle of life (book baby)
Day Job = People with very narrow job descriptions and smidgen of power who make doing our job difficult or impossible. Many decisions take place in dark, smoke-filled rooms, behind the scenes.
Night Job = Ok, yeah. This happens everywhere.
Image by openDemocracy on flickr
Day Job = I try hard not to hurt anyone and always want to make them better.
Night Job = I try hard to hurt all of my characters, and delay making them better until 95% of the book is done. Even then, most everyone walks with a limp when I’m finished with them. Given the soft tissue injures, it’s a mystery how there aren’t more wound infections in my books.
Day Job = Lots of blood and guts.
Night Job (at least the way I write) = Lots of blood and guts. And a recent fixation with broken bones and bone marrow oozing, it would appear.
Image by Jen Morgan on flickr
Day Job = Make heartfelt comments at your own risk of life, limb and career.
Night Job = The more heartfelt comments you can make, the better the career.
Day Job = How to keep job and maintain sanity? Only show limited feelings to patients, and show zero feelings to administrators or other departments.
Night Job = All those feelings that got pent up all day long – bleeeaahhh. Right there on the page for all to see, and it feels so good! Sanity restored!
Image by Freedom House on flickr
Day Job = Politics that I don’t understand.
Night Job = Politics that I don’t understand.
Day Job = Nice people who will do anything to help
Night Job = Nice people who will do anything to help
Day Job = Sometimes yeah, you have to just Google it.
Night Job = Sometimes yeah, you have to just Google it.
Day Job = Carpal tunnel risk due to excessive typing.
Night Job = Carpal tunnel risk due to excessive typing.
Image by Sebastien Wiertz on flickr
Day Job = When there’s an emergency, you gotta go help.
Night Job = When there’s a great idea, and you gotta go type!
So which is better? Day Job or Night Job?
It’s like having two homely children. No way could I pick my favorite….
#1) Think hard about laundry. It might miraculously get done on its own.
(image via Flickr and Wesley Underwood)
#2) Try to stay focused at work. This means no taunting, gloating, or loudly calling out how many days are left until vacation starts.
#3) Probably worth figuring out if I have a passport. Maybe also see if it’s expired or not.
#4) Plot numerous ways to sleep on the plane. Recognize that none will work and I’ll arrive jet-lagged no matter what I do.
(image via Flickr and Phossil .)
#5) Try to do book stuff now, because no way will I do anything productive on the trip.
#6) Triple book office schedule because no way will any of my patients survive 2 weeks without me. (Never mind the well-trained colleagues who can see them urgently in my absence.)
#7) Attempt to exercise because no way will I do this on the trip. Although, of course I’ll bring workout clothes. They will be the only garments that will return 100% clean.
#8) Load up the Kindle!!!!
#9) Do the once every year pedicure and cringe.
(image via Flickr and Crystal Sarakas)
#10) Wait until 2 hours before time to leave and run through the house like a crazy woman, shoving too many of the wrong kinds of clothes into the suitcase. Forget all underwear.
This week is a call block, which means yours truly is on call for 7 days in a row for Ob deliveries, if my colleagues need someone to do a C-section, and at times for all admissions to the hospital (adult or peds) and q15 minute calls from the nursing home. Call is always feast or famine. It could be boring. It could suck rocks. I work in a small, rural hospital, so FP’s do pretty much everything here.
If you live in a big city, then this job may seem like the unholy love child of Marcus Welby, M.D., Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, and Dr. Joel Fleischman (Northern Exposure). And you’d be correct. The net result when I’m on my call stint? Poor sleep, putting out fires in the office and all hours of day and night, and difficulty doing anything but sit around and wait for the next call to light up the phone.
Oh, how I love it when all 4 nursing homes call in a staggered “burst” pattern, every 5 minutes, on a rotation. How they coordinate this precise timing, I have no idea, but I stand in horrified awe when they get going. Well, not so much at 3am, but you get the idea.
When I had to transfer out a crashing patient last night (septic, had to be intubated because she wasn’t breathing much, acidotic), the adrenaline burst got me thinking about what it is I still like about medicine. Because there are a lot of things that push docs right up to the edge of burnout, and we should probably get some alcoholic beverages if we’re going to talk about some of the intense stupidity medical professionals have to deal with these days.
So every once in a while, it’s important to recall what excites and drives me about medicine.
#1) It feels good to able to take care of 90% of what rolls in the door. (I didn’t mention it, but for the first 7 years of my career, I paid off a chunk of student loans by working as an ER doctor in my “free time”.)
#2) Instincts. They’re honed and I trust them more. I’ve developed a great “spidey sense”. Even when a patient looks “okay” on paper, if I get that weird feeling on my neck, then I’ve learned to pay close attention. It pays off. Once in a while, I’ll get a feeling and simply go to, say, the Ob department. More often than not, something’s going south in a hurry right after I get there. Kind of freaks out the nurses when I get there before they have to call me.
#3) Delivering babies. It just never gets old, ever ever ever. There’s nothing like that pause when the baby comes out of the C-section incision, or when the baby comes out after a tough vaginal delivery. Everyone in the room holds their breath for a few seconds. Then that baby cries and my heart starts again. Every time with each new baby is wonderful.
#4) I can do a lot of really cool things with my hands. Like cut a human out of a human. Or remove skin cancer and put the skin back together with a minimum of scar. It’s kind of like art.
#5) There’s always hope that someone will do some of what I recommend. And you know what? On occasion, it happens, and man, it makes me smile.
#6) Even the routine is interesting. Maybe patients have run-of-the-mill diabetes and high blood pressure. But start asking about their family or beliefs or background or hobbies, and it gets interesting in a hurry.
#7) Most folks appreciate that I’m trying my best to help them.
#8) Medicine is fodder for the writing. I’m not saying that I use individual patients as models. That doesn’t happen. What I’m talking about is seeing the range of humanity, emotions, hopes, and fears that patients share. That’s sacred. That shades my writing.
#9) People can be hilarious.
#10) Old folks have wisdom. So do kids. Ask a few questions and that fact will quickly become clear.
Author, daydreamer, and practitioner of trying very hard to duct tape folks together and help when I can.