Monday, December 12, 2011

We've Got Some Catching Up to Do

This is the first day in months and months and months that I have nothing on my desk that was due yesterday. (Plenty that needs doing, just nothing horribly overdue.)
So, work catch-up time? Screw that. Blog catch-up time!
I was not wrong to think that this was going to be one of my toughest stretches since being an intern in the ICU before duty hours restrictions. (War story alert! I once worked 108 hours in one week. Okay, 107, if you don’t count the hour that I was asleep in the call room.) It reminded me of the hurricane scene in The Cay, you know, that Young Adult book about how Racism Is Bad, where this prejudiced boy is stranded on a desert island with a black man and a huge hurricane comes and the man ties the two of them to a palm tree with the boy sandwiched in the middle, and the storm rages for what seems like forever, and there is howling wind and deadly flotsam and the wet and the cold etc., and when it is over the man is dead and the boy survives … I sort of feel like that, except without the sacrificial stereotype protecting me. Also no one has died.
No, actually, someone did die. My cousin died in October, for lack of national health care. For real. He was a pianist. Restaurants, kids’ lessons, church organist. Had he seen a doctor in the past year, he’d still be alive. But although he made a living, he couldn’t afford health insurance. The government will now pick up his huge ICU and surgery bill — now that it's too late. I was not close to him but I am to his mother and sister, so that added some intensity to these past few months — as well as perspective.
Work. Falling into place. I have excised some of my clinical duties already, and starting in January, I will have no direct patient hours and no weekends. This should give my brain the critical peace and space needed to come up with bright ideas for my new roles — which terrifies me, I’ll admit. (I will still be doing some clinical stuff — mainly precepting — so I don’t have to cut my old patients entirely loose and so I don’t lose my edge.) I am trying to shake the feeling I get when I spend fewer than ten hours a day at work. It’s not guilt exactly; more like feeling not virtuous.
House. I hired someone to cook and keep house for us two afternoons a week, and I have no feelings of lost virtue over that. She is from Nepal, and she is amazing. We’re never quite sure what it is we’re eating, but it’s always awesome. We have a cupboard stocked with stuff from the Indian market — we can’t even read many of the labels.
Marriage. I had a big Hash It Out with my husband, which is another post altogether, but it was related to him being grumpy all the time. This was mainly job-related, and I finally said if you don’t turn that frown upside down and work on fixing this instead of moping and whining, I will … actually I wasn’t sure what I would do. Be really mad or something. I also said while you’re at it start doing more around the house. Things had slid into imbalance, partly because I was trying to cheer him up by relieving his stress and partly because one of his old duties was to get HB off of my back (literally off of my back in many cases), and that duty has mercifully become obsolete, but TH hadn’t quite noticed that. And he said okay, and now he’s a lot more fun to be around. (He is still on his bike many hours a week, but I’m used to that by now.)
Child. HB is rarely hellish anymore. Intense, always, but I no longer feel like I have to be on point every second to avoid nuclear meltdown, and that’s one beautiful feeling right there. He says he hates school but he is clearly happier than he’s ever been. He is growing his hair out (until he’s twelve, he says) and does not mind being called a girl. He also is developing crushes … on girls. He gives them fashion tips — e.g., where to buy the tight velvet pants (girls’ size 5) he wears every day. He is taking guitar lessons, so in the future he can be the boy who pisses off the other guys because he will make all the girls moon over him even if he’s totally jerky to them.
Running. Running is actually going better than it has in the past couple of years. Honestly, I had been wondering whether my stamina was fading. Then I went to visit my folks and got to run in beautiful woodlands and realized that I had just fallen into a rut of a route. So when I got home I mapped out a gorgeous loop from my front door that I never realized was a possibility. It features hills, fields, woods, streams, and even a tiny waterfall. I half expect to see a fox and hounds bounding towards me some days. (I was startled one day by some very urban-looking youths riding bareback on horses. Also a guy with a full drum kit by the side of the road, practicing without another soul in sight.) Depending on how I cut it, it can be anywhere from five to eight miles. (Here’s an interview with Matthew Inman about running that my husband found. Did you know that the author of the Oatmeal is an endurance runner? I did not.)
How’s it going with you all? Hello? Hello? Still there?


Julie said...

Yay! Glad you're back on blog, glad your life is calming down a little bit.

Snickollet said...

Thanks for the update. Sounds like the new year is full or promise.

Does your Nepali housekeeper/cook know anyone in Portland who is looking for work? Wow, that sounds fantastic.

Alice said...

YAY!!! I'm glad you updated! You were definitely missed.

Hope you and your family have a great holiday season and an awesome new year.

Rose @ Eat, Drink, and Be Meiri said...

Still here. SO glad you posted. You're in my "read immediately" section of blogger.

Solitary Diner (Also Known as The Frugalish Physician) said...

Welcome back! Enjoy the house helper. I have a very occasional housekeeper, and having someone do work for me is divine.

Anonymous said...

Glad you're back! I've been running for a whole year now (!) thanks to you, and can go three miles!!!!!! When I started, I couldn't even get around the block. Now I have to wear a damn compression sleeve on my arm, but I still don't have to wear a bra, not ever again. Is that a reasonable trade-off? Best not to think about it. Anyway, great to hear about your life.

- Texas Anon

winecat said...

Hey welcome back! Sounds as if life is good in your world. Happy holidays

DrSpouse said...

I am considering doing a 5 mile run on Christmas Eve - I finally got an inhaler and ran 7k in 50 mins yesterday. You would be proud of how slow I am.

Anonymous said...

Still here and glad you are too. I have taken a hiatus from running but plan to get back to it when I go to NZ in January (it will be summer there) for 6 weeks.

Jo said...

Well HEY! I'm awfully glad to see you back.

Right now I'm sidelined because I pushed a bit too hard with the running. Not being able to run is an incomprehensibly terrible penance, so rest assured it won't happen again, drill sergeant.

Thank you, again, for giving me running. It has turned out to be a way bigger deal than I ever imagined.

Kehla said...

So glad you're back! I'm sorry to hear about your cousin. Glad that work has settled into a good place.

Laura said...

I'm still here, too! Great to see a new post, and great to know that HB is happier than he has ever been, and is still stylish. :) A post a month, that's all I ask!

Anonymous said...

Oh, HI! So good to hear from you...

I'm still here. I can't tell you how often I've been back here, actually, poring over the old Maggot Files and trying to find my feet again. I ran a 5K this year--not well, but I ran it. My motivation ran out before then, and...I'm working on it.

Best wishes for the holiday season and the coming new year!

Signe said...

I started running thanks to your blog! Did my first 5k in Sep, 7 miler off road in Nov, and now a half in Jan...but paying for it a bit.

Kim said...

I'm a maggot now thanks to you! A baby maggot, but still. I'm going on 8 weeks of running.

snozma said...

Yah! Hello!

I feel like I have to return several times to go over every issue in this post and comment on it.

I'm still agog about the 107 hours. Boy, that beats my record for sure.

Let's see--I was running a little bit and then I sprained my ankle and now I'm back to square one.

As a doctor, you probably hate the idea of supplements but rhodiola made running so much easier for me.

I had a spiritual experience running through a tornado destroyed park that was totally empty when I was at a conference. Really and truly mystical, etc. So I want that again. Woodlands ROCK.

Everything is going OK with me. I will be back.

jb said...

welcome back! glad you are well. glad HB is doing so well. I am amazed at his ability to be himself - its really wonderful. and glad your life may -- soon - get a little less intense.