Rampant Guilt

When my kids are sick, I am usually the one to push through the sleepless nights, make my husband mostly deal with them, and leave them home with the Nanny while I go to work.  I don’t have a lot of flexibility at my job to take days off (I get 5 sick days a year and 4 EDOs which need to be scheduled in advance).  This makes the decision when it comes to caring for my sick kids very difficult.  I almost always go to work when the kids are sick and spend the whole day worrying about them and feeling guilty for not putting them before my work.

I already have a significant amount of mommy guilt when it comes to dealing with my vomiting kids.  I have extreme emetophobia (fear or vomit/vomiting) and usually can’t be near my kids when they are vomiting or I think they will vomit.  I also fear that by being next to them, I will “catch” whatever bug they have and then I will get sock too.  I hate myself for it, but I can barely put my fear/anxiety aside to comfort my kids when they are sick.

Yesterday my son developed a horrible bout of gastroenteritis.  At least I figured it was gastro, until he could not stop vomiting (no matter what medications we tried to give him) his entire stomach contents, then bile, then just poor retching.  Even a sip of water to wet his mouth would lead to more retching.  Through this all he was complaining about a really bad stomach ache and the pain seemed to be  getting worse as the night progressed.  After already being awake all night and finally overcoming my vomit fear to lay down with him and rub his back (at this point he was barely even retching anymore), I began to worry more about his abdominal pain.  He wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t sleeping, and he was obviously dehydrated.  I felt like he needed to be seen in the urgent care centre, at least to check out his abdominal pain, and to possibly give him some stronger medication and rehydrate him.  Making the decision to do this meant that I for certain wouldn’t be able to go to work today.  So after weighting which guilt would be worse – that of not taking care of my sick son or that of calling in sick to work for the second time in the span of a week – I opted to take him in.

I put his cool little feet into his socks and piled him into the car with his blanket, giraffe, and a little puke bowl.  I drove across the city at 2:30am and listened to him moan in pain from the back seat.  I checked him in to the urgent care and waited for the nurse, then the doctor, then the medication, and finally the rehydration.  My 5:30am alarm rang and I made the call to my chief resident.  I felt horrible for that.  Eventually my son’s lips started looking less dry and his face less pale.  He was more talkative again, and we got the go ahead to leave.  We drove home and got into bed and slept most of the morning,  However, when I woke up, I felt an extreme amount of guilt for not being at work.

It feels like I can never win the battle against Guilt.  For every “good decision” that is made, there seems to be an equal and opposite “bad decision.”  I feel like I am always trying to decide which decision is actually the good one…


Sick Day

I am taking a sick day today.  This is the first sick day I have ever taken at this job in 1.5 years, and really, the only sick day I think I have taken in all of my medical training career.  I always feel guilty about taking sick days.

Two days ago I was in the OR all day with difficult cases which required me to do a lot of pushing, pulling, and of course, a lot of standing.  At one point I was pushing on a lady’s belly so hard (because her baby was stuck at the c-section) that I actually felt something in my own belly – and I realized I had been pushing harder than my body can handle right now.  If my day had ended at 5:00pm like normal, I might have been okay.  But, I was on call.  By about 10:00pm, I was starting to have cramping.  It wasn’t bad, but it was starting up, my legs and body were also sore, and I still had more than 8 hours to go until my shift was over.  Things only got worse through the whole night.  I tried to sit when I could, but that didn’t seem to help too much.  I had to go to the OR again, where we had another difficult delivery (and again, I was doing the pushing).  By the time my shift was over, I was constantly cramping and in pain.  I couldn’t even stand up or walk without holding back tears.  I managed to get out of the hospital by 7:00am, and when I got into bed, I just started crying – I was hurting so much.

I eventually fell asleep and had a broken sleep until 3:00pm.  Every time I moved in my sleep, I would wake up from pain.  After getting out of bed and moving around, I noticed some cramping starting up again.  It was never as bad as the night before, but it didn’t let down all night.  Despite knowing that this was likely happening because I was “working too hard,” I went in to the hospital just to be safe.  Since I see women who come in with cramping at this same gestation all the time, I knew what they were going to do and what they were going to say to me (after all, these are my colleagues).  I also got up the courage to call in sick for today – so that I could give my body a good rest.  I’ve got a weekend of heavy call coming up starting tomorrow, and I’ve either been on call, working, or post-call (the day after call when we go home to sleep) every day since December 28th, including over last weekend.  My body is clearly not coping…

Every thing turned out okay at the hospital: my cervix is closed and I have no bladder infection.  My doctor told me to take it easy and get some rest.  I made it home by 11:30pm when I promptly went to bed.  I woke a few times in the night with some pain, and then when husband and kids got up and out of the house.  However, I seemed incapable of getting out of bed until 10:30am.  I feel like I could sleep even more… Maybe I should, seeing as how I took off this day to rest, and all.