Friday, March 22, 2013


Why do I keep doing this?  After all, I should know better.  It is not efficient, logical, cost-effective or even a healthy thing to do.

I finish, look up, and realize the day is gone.  I realize I have so much other work to do: notes to type, orders to type, instructions to give, phone messages to return, emails to check, meals to eat, wives to call, meals to eat, kids to help.  What was I thinking?

I stop, feel my sore knees and swollen legs, and realize: I'm spent.

An eight-hour case will do that to you.

For eight straight hours, I was focused, engaged, challenged, incrementally approaching a success, I was sure, only to be challenged again and again.  Okay, it's not this, could it be this?  If it's not here, then where?  Can't reach it with this, what else could I try?  Got to be careful here - this where I've had problems before - but it's where I have to go.  Easy on the power, could get ugly.  Where is this damn thing?  Could it be here?  Where haven't we looked?   Maybe there?  What's the ACT?  Give more heparin, please.


And On.

And On.

Until finally, exhausted, you quit.  You have to quit.  It's safer to quit. 


Then you look up, and the fourteen-hour day is gone but the case isn't.   It circulates in you mind for hours while you try to pick up the day's pieces.  You come home starved for you've not eaten.  If your still married, your wife looks at you as if you've contracted a terminal illness.  Your kids roll their eyes since your not much help to them now.

"Go to bed, Dad, you're worthless."



Anonymous said...

Our hospital CEO was just as exhausted after he returned from a convention. He was up all night partying with EMR vendors. Doctors cannot take a pen from a pharma rep but administrators get junkets to Vegas. I am seriously thinking of getting my MBA so I can have get a good life.

SeaSpray said...

It sounds like you love what you are doing and your highly dedicated. And if your body wasn't reminding you to stop may've gone longer. ?

Anonymous said...

And then I tell myself, I can get caught up this weekend.

Michael Davis said...

I don't know how you do it. I watch the electrophysiologists at my hospital and wonder how they can do what they do, day after day, wearing those heavy shields? It amazes me. I can see how you would feel spent.

W.O.R.M. said...

Do I detect a little existential angst Dr. Wes? The "bad" day that you had should serve to provide perspective. Every working soul, regardless of what toils fill their daily ledger, has one from time to time. Work-life balance is the key. If/when these "bad" days occur too frequently, it is time for a reassessment.

You are literally tasked with life and death responsibilities that most folks cannot imagine. But there is no reason that you should become a sacrificial lamb to your "calling". It's not worth it.

Let me share an anecdote. Countless times over the years, I have examined patients with stem-to-stern incisional scars that could only have resulted from a life altering experience. For me, that would be near equal to ANY major life event. If I were that patient, the person who entered that sanctum would be indelibly imprinted in my memory. However, I cannot tell you how many times a completely lucid individual had absolutely no idea of their surgeon's name. Forgive my sensitivities, but my takeaway message is that Doctor, you are just not THAT important to them.

Contrast that with your family. You are the center of their world. When your time is up, it will be your loved ones grieving at your funeral. Your patients will find another doctor.

Work hard and give it your best. Be compassionate. Expect an occasional "bad" day. But don't surrender yourself or your family to a job. It's not worth it.

Anonymous said...

32thank you, Dr. Wes and God bless you and all docs who try to channel a miracle while working under the ever present pressure from administration, lawsuit threats, and insurance mayhem.