Monday, November 05, 2012

Recovery Mode

It is hard to explain what Recovery Mode feels like to doctors.

Recovery Mode is what every doctor experiences after a rough night on call, a stressful case, a phrenetic day or week of constant clinical ups and downs.

No matter what the cause, it inevitably takes a while to recover.

And as I get older, I reflect on how Recovery Mode has impacted me and my family more.  Perhaps it is the years of entering and exiting Recovery Mode.  Or maybe, it's because with age, it's harder to rebound, I'm not sure.  But usually, there is relief that you've made it through another test of your endurance, both physically and emotionally when you leave Recovery Mode and reenter a more normal work pattern.

Recovery Mode should not be confused with doctor burnout.  Rather, Recovery Mode it is a natural and expected consequence of our job that involves sleep deprivation, tough decisions, and the high levels of attention to more and more details required of doctors that are often proscribed by others.  Inevitably, it takes time to recover to baseline after an unsual amount of these "normal" events.

But the effects of Recovery Mode are real.  I know it.  The kids know it.  So does my wife. 

And writing here means there's hope.



Jay said...


So true. Even worse for me, though is the way the actual time on call affects me. I tend to walk around with an unusual degree of fear and paranoia that unfortunately affects how I deal with others in and out of the hospital. My family has had to deal with this for years, and it may be getting worse.

Post call is actually much better, although I'm probably not much fun then either.


Anonymous said...

I laughed when I saw the spelling of word 'phrenetic', thinking that it was a deliberate misspelling of the word frenetic (because I knew that phrenologists at one time conducted mental health exams by looking at the bony formations, bumps, and lumps on the surface of one's skull).

Some people react to stress as banshees, lunatics, loud yammers, and offensively obnoxious when overwhelmed and overstressed.

Effects of RM on me, is quietening, speaking slowly and deliberately as my head fills with cotton or synthetic wool fibers and a whooshing sound invades ear canal. Hyper-vigilance effects increase noise that's already in my head!