Saturday, April 30, 2011


I’m alive.

And, I’m okay.

After my last post (& the one before that), I got lots of “are you okay?’s” from facebook & blogland. Which, by the way, I very much appreciate.

But I’m alive. And I’m okay. And actually, at this very moment, I’m doing quite well thankyouverymuch.

I feel like I just ran a marathon. All that real running would have been conveninent, mostly because I’ve gained 12 pounds this winter. Ehem.

Anyways, details aside, I’ve emerged from hibernation. And before I thank you for your support & concern & love & prayers, I think I should probably clarify where I’ve been.

In many ways, I feel like I’ve been in the trenches. Holding dying hands. Delivering dead babies. Diagnosing deadly diseases. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago at small group (bless those souls in our Bible Study) that yes, there is life, but ohmygosh there is also death. Suicide of a neighbor…& then another neighbor. Hospice. Cancer. Dementia. Delirium. Psychosis. Overdoses. ICU. Alcoholism. Cocaine. The list goes on. Seven months—straight of an almost-daily grind that quite literally drained the life out of me. That thing called burnout? I BELIEVE IT NOW. A couple of weeks left me with over 100 hours clocked, the others tipping the exhaustion scale at somewhere between 60 & 80.. I swear two months passed this winter where I didn’t step outside in the daylight. I lived in the cinched waistbands of faded blue scrubs, got yelled at by sub-specialists who think the world revolves around their bathroom habits, & told families to get things ready because their son or mother or cousin or friend wasn’t going to be joining them for the Holiday’s.

It was hard.

And you know, I’m a conservative depression-diagnoser. I think we’ve gotten too caught up in the DSM-V diagnoses—stretching to hang on to something that might justify how we are feeling—or how we aren’t feeling. But the truth is that LIFE IS TOUGH. Sometimes, despite what criteria are included, LIFE JUST SUCKS. Certainly, the real McCoy exists--& when it does, it hits hard. But there are plenty of characters, of long work hours & broken relationships & “feeling blue” & seasonal affective disorder’s & hard weeks & long days that dress up quite nicely as a depressed dysthymic stew. And when patients come begging for pills or easy fixes, I’m not one that buys into the “diagnosis means delivery” sort of cure-all. This battle, the one I’ve been fighting since residency started, is one that needs to be fought. I worked hard to get to this place. And although I certainly didn’t expect it to be this hard, I knew that it would be challenging. I knew that I’d have to lean on (& sometimes be carried by) Jon. I knew that I’d have to forego & give up & maybe even give in. And I knew that Vitamin D would be my friend, that sunlights & tanning beds were viable substitutions for the real deal, & that this too shall pass.

This month I’m on a no-call-nights-feel-like-a-human-being-regular-person schedule. One where, low-and-behold, I can actually workout in the morning without getting up before the roosters. One where I can come home & get things done like cleaning & cooking & gardening. One where I can find the time to write letters & redecorate, to spray paint & read. One where I am, for the first time in what feels like forever, surfacing to find that the tulips are blooming & the world is a happy place.

It’s, like, better than Disneyland.

I start five weeks in the ICU at the end of May. Where more sickness & death & tubes & beeps & procedures & bad news will be had. Right in the middle of summer sun & sprinklers & popcicles. I’ll miss out on Memorial Day (just like Thanksgiving & Christmas & Valentine’s Day & Easter—all of which had me working).

This is part of the process. Hard. Annoying. Draining. Challenging. Burnout-inducing. But nonetheless, part of the process. I’m dreaming about a someday-3-day-a-week work schedule & being able to just be home with my family. In the meantime, however, I’ll keep plugging along. Because aside from sewing the occasional throw-pillow & spray painting bright-colored frames, I need to learn to find joy in the corners & cracks, between the lines of my schedule, & within the heart that I know still exists.  

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