Tuesday, November 12, 2019
The Miasma of Work
I went to work this past weekend, early on a Sunday morning.
Here's the scary part: I don't work Sundays.
The scarier part: I sat down in my chair at my desk and thought Thank God, no patients are here. I can get some work done.
I had to finish several clinic notes from last week, review labs, log on to the state disability website and complete some forms. Oh, and go through emails, review my clinic schedule for the coming week, look at my calendar and see if I had any personal appointments and figure out when my parents were going to the doctor this month. It took me about four hours (but I was not in a hurry).
Over the past few years work has taken over my life chunk by chunk, weekend by weekend. I have not made much effort to fight it. Sadly, I have noticed that when I am on vacation I actually become twitchy after a day or so of not being online. Partly, I must admit, it is easier in some ways to spend time on patients and lab results than to
- run errands
- get dressed and go out to see friends
- do any of the hobbies I have been meaning to do
It seems that every time I make time for something other than work, I pay for it later by getting avalanched with emails, phone calls, test results, etc.
But things are about to change. A few months ago I sent an email to my medical director telling him that I wanted to resign my job. It's something I have been thinking about for over a year. But now, with three elderly and ill relatives who need a lot of help, I have finally made the decision to quit.
It won't be a complete retreat from medicine. After discussion with my medical director we reached a compromise whereby I would work one week per month as an hourly employee, basically a locum. ('Locum' is Latin for 'temp worker' and is a term applied to certain professions; we also still use 'curriculum vitae' instead of 'resume' in medicine. Not sure why.)
I can actually travel again. I can go out to see friends. But most importantly I have to figure out how to restructure my life around something other than work. My aunt, one of the relatives I mentioned above, has offered me a lot of valuable advice. She has said more than once that after retirement it took her a year to figure out what she enjoyed and what she wanted to do. So I will start with a few basic projects and keep going from there.
I will blog again. Brace yourselves.