I hit the snooze alarm.
It was 6:30 when I jumped out of bed. Dang! I have a baby at the hospital and have to be in the office by 7:30!
I showered quickly and ran out without coffee or food – I’ll get it sometime this morning. In the driveway I noticed that my wife’s car was unlocked. I usually don’t notice that, but with some valuables in the car I though it should be locked, which I did.
Drove down to the hospital, trying to stay within a reasonable proximity of the speed limit. The baby was healthy, but mom was roomed in a remote part of the post-partum ward (in a distant time zone it seemed). I got back to my car by 7:25.
Again, trying to avoid speeding, I headed to the office. It was easy to avoid speeding because traffic was bad (as bad as it gets in our town – nothing close to most cities). I saw a Wendy’s and pulled in for a cup of coffee and maybe something more. Phone rang. Did you lock the car? My wife did quite well to hide frustration. She realized she forgot and that I was just trying to be good. My keys were in it. The kids have to get to school – E has a big test early in the day.
I drove past the drive-through and turned back to go home. I called my nurse to tell her I would be late. “Bad day for that,” she told me. “Three staff called in sick, and so did Dr. A. Some stomach bug is going around.” I told her to do her best.
When I got home, I unlocked the offending door and went into the house. I apologized and my wife sighed. Nobody was bad; it was just bad timing. Grabbing a cup of coffee I went back to the car. The cup holders in this car were made by practical jokers, as they don’t accommodate anything but those little bottles of liquor you get on an airplane. I tried to balance the mug of coffee, but as I started driving it listed to the side. I grabbed it before it spilled much. This made driving difficult, however, because the car is a standard transmission. Within the gyrations necessary to hold a full coffee cup and drive a standard, I ended up with a fair percent of it in my lap.
Arriving at work, 4 patients were in rooms waiting to see me. Nobody was simple, and I had to call an orthopedist for the first one I saw. Othropedists are impossible to reach at 8 AM – they are almost universally in the operating room. It took over an hour to reach this one, and when I did it turned out that he didn’t accept the woman’s insurance.
Patients continued piling into the office, and my nurse manager pulled me to the side. She told me of a patient the night before who was very complicated and needed to see me right away. Since I had no spots open on the schedule, they double-booked her at the start of my schedule. Not a bad thing to do; just bad timing.
“Hell had enough days, so they decided to send me one” I twittered in frustration.
I ended up spending over an hour with the patient, as issues were very complicated. She had gone through some very hard things and was not sure what way to turn. There were no easy answers. She looked tired, upset, and frustrated. She was having a bad day.
No matter how justified I am in griping about a day that just doesn’t seem to work, my job always brings me back to reality. As bad as my day is, I will undoubtedly see people who were having much worse days than mine. My day was one of simple frustration and bad timing. My patients are often really suffering.
It’s hard to get yourself out of the self-focused mindset, when your day starts like this. Yet I can’t do my job without having my eyes focused on my patients. I have to listen, and not compare days. I was running late and was frazzled, but eventually caught up (thanks to some no-shows). The frustration of today will vanish like the morning mist on a sunny day. Soon it will be nothing more than an asterisk on an otherwise normal day. This woman (and other patients), however, won’t be so lucky. The badness of their day puts my complaints in perspective.
It’s good to get the reminder.This material, written by me, is free to re-post and share under the Creative Commons agreement. In other words, use it all you want; just give me credit.