This is my dog Holly giving a prime lesson on how to chill out. Holly spent the past two weeks in northern Michigan on vacation, and is still there right now (lucky dog). I am, however, back to work today for the first time in two weeks. She loves Michigan, as it gives her time to play in the water and lounge around outside without the dreadful Georgia heat. Over the past two weeks she has served as a role-model.
This is the first two week vacation I've taken since starting practice 18 years ago. Normally money has seemed too tight or other things too important for me to feel it was possible to take two weeks off at a time. Perhaps because I turned 50 recently and gained perspective on things, or perhaps for some other reason, but my worries did not seem so big now (despite having two kids going to college in the fall) as to prevent this vacation. Coming back to work, it is clear that this life detox was long needed.
It was truly a detoxification of my system from all of the pathogens life sends my way and from those I willingly take in. I cut back to one cup of coffee a day from easily over four. I don’t actually think it’s harmful for me to drink so much coffee, but I do not like to have to depend on it to keep me going, and so hitting the reset button on caffeine seemed a good idea (albeit the cause of some suffering for the first few days). I also avoided any contact with my practice for the entire time (despite the ability to log in remotely). I also had limited wi-fi access (although I could check email on my phone), and our TV there gets only 2 channels, so my contact with the information inundation that defines this age was cut back to a trickle.
I took a bunch of pictures (you can see more of them here), messing around with the apps on my iPhone, I hiked, I canoed, I read, I drank beer, smoked cigars, went rock hunting on lake Superior, and generally chilled-out.
Rocks on in the water of Lake Superior (not enhanced - they really look like this)
I was telling my nurse today that I don’t particularly feel rejuvenated by the trip, but I do feel that there is less background noise in life right now. I am able to think about things I just reacted to prior to this detox. Some of my patients missed me, but they did OK without me, proving that I am not indispensable. Just like detox from my caffeine makes coffee more potent, the detox from life makes me see things more granularly. Does the patient really need tests? Is this really a problem worth going after? How much worry does health care reform honestly merit on my part?
What seems important while on the superhighway sometimes becomes frivolous when you take the slower two-lane highway.