Queens Don’t Fail

 

 

Last week a friend of mine from medical school send me this snapshot from a book she’s reading: Constance Halls, “Like A Queen.”  She felt that this sentence embodied me.  Just the day before I told her that I was considering a specialty change.  I confessed that one of the feelings holding me back was that of failure.  In my mind, switching means failure.

The past few weeks have been a challenging time for me.  For years now, I have thrown around the idea of changing specialties in medicine.  Initially, the idea started because I struggled greatly with my work life balance: there is no room for family life in a surgical residency.  When A. was diagnosed with ASD, I took some time off and realized that I needed to give more to my family.  Despite that, I tried for a long time to convince myself that as long as I loved my job and enjoyed what I did while I was at work, the sacrifices at home would be worth it.  I honestly believe that, even now.  However, as more time goes by, I wonder if I really do enjoy my job as much as I tell myself I do.

Lately I find that I haven’t been as interested and engaged in my work.  I do my work and I take care of my patients, but I haven’t really been enjoying myself.  I wake up in the mornings dragging my feet and I spend a large proportion of the day waiting for it to come to an end so I can get home to my family.  Surgery is technically challenging and pleasurable, but I don’t feel passion when I am in the OR – Just a sense of obligation.  My call shifts are becoming more and more onerous, especially as they stack on top of each other: all I want to do is sleep.  When I think ahead to the heavy rotations, the year of being chief resident, and the studying that is going to have to happen, I cringe.  I know that not too far from now, I will have to neglect my family even more than I do now for an entire year if I want to pass my board exams.  And, I just don’t think I’m willing to make that sacrifice.

So, does that mean I need to change my goals?  Or am I just experiencing a bad case of burnout?  Maybe a little bit of both?  Is this really a good time to make a change in career paths?

I feel dissatisfied at work and I feel like I am falling short as a caring and engaged mother when I am at home.  I know, for certain, that these two feeling are not exclusive of one another.  Together these feelings play into a vicious negative-feedback cycle: I dislike my job because of how it affects my family life, and I feel guilty about what happens to my family because of how much I commit to my job.  Inadequacy in all aspects of life make for an unhappy life.  Despite all of this dissatisfaction, I feel frozen and unable to make a decision on how to move forward.  Staying in the same place, expecting things to get better feels like the wrong decision.  Yet, committing to change, admitting that I’m not happy, and taking a new path is frightening and feels like failure in disguise.

All these thoughts, ideas, and stressors have caused havoc in my mind.  Just a few weeks ago, after decideding to move ahead with the change, I felt empowered and giddy with excitement that I was taking control of my life.  That excitement has now completely dwindled away to leave only more anxiety and fear over the decision.  I fear that I am making this decision for the wrong reasons and that one day I will regret not “sticking it out.”  But I also fear the perception of failure.

I know I could finish this if I tried (and if I wanted to).  But is it what I really want?

 

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Just Be With It

Yesterday was a bad day… It’s a really long story, the kind that requires knowledge of the background situation and a good handle of what my day-to-day job entails.

Originally, This blog entry included all the details of what happened. I decided to delete it all though, because it just made me feel so bad and I don’t want to give the situation that much power over me.

Ultimately, I received a poor evaluation for my last rotation before El was born. This shocked me for a number of reasons, but mostly because I felt that the rotation went very well and was no different than any other rotation I’ve done.  Also, at no point during the rotation did anyone tell me that they thought I was acting or performing so far below their expectations that I deserved to fail. In fact, I only ever got positive feedback from people.

I know this evaluation is inaccurate and untrue. I have my beliefs as to why this may have happened and I have started the process of appealing the evaluation. Regardless, it made me feel horrible about myself and it made me feel completely helpless in the face of the guy who seemed more than satisfied to give me a failing evaluation.

In light of my recent feelings of inadequacy at home, this certainly didn’t make me feel geat about myself at all.  I am trying to do a good job of everything in my life and I feel like I am falling short everywhere (even if I’m technically not). It just constantly feels like I’m doing something wrong.  This meeting completely ruined my day yesterday, and it ruined my night. I am trying hard not to let it ruin my whole week.  While this situation does need to be sorted out and rectified in some way, I’m going to try hard to just “let it be.”  There has to be something to learn from this situation.


(Thanks to a wonderful blogging friend who posted this image on that other big social networking site… I needed to see this today)

Reflections for a New Year

 Many of these types of inspirational pictures and messages have been floating around on my Facebook feed over the past few days. Given that I’ve been in a rather introspective mindset and contemplating changes in my life, they have really been hitting a chord for me. I know that I’ve been rather absent from the blogosphere lately and I think that has actually been a bad thing. This is a great place for me to come and let out my thoughts, fears, questions, and frustrations. While I’ve been very busy with work and home, I feel like the winter blues have been making me lazy and unmotivated to blog. The truth is,  though, I really miss it and I think my mental health is suffering because of it.  I really need o work harder on making blogging a priority – not because I want to promote my blog or anything, but because I know it contributes to my mental sanity. 

On a similar note, I have been reflecting on some goals for the new year. Last year on the old blog, I set 11 goals for myself over the year. I met most of them by half way through the year, and a few of them fell to the wayside. In July, right before I closed down the old blog and started anew, I revised and reset some goals but with the blogging fiasco, I never kept up with them. I really want to start some new goals for 2016 here on this blog, much like I did last year. I have been reflecting on  some reasonable goals given that I’m struggling with decisions surrounding my career, I am 4.5 months pregnant, and I feel like I am starting from “zero” most days.  I’m hoping that by the end of this weekend I will have delineated some reasonable goals and will have posted them here for accountability. 

In the meanime, in will make a shot-term “pseudo goal” to get back into the blogging world.   
    
 

Ready For Christmas

December has been a whirlwind month. I feel bad for not blogging in almost a whole month. However, it’s been tough keeping my head up over the past few weeks. Today we are on our way out of town in preparation for Christmas. It is going to be another crazy 5 days, but at least I’m off work and spending time with my family. I’m hoping to get a few more blog posts in over the next few days. But here is a quick summary of the last few weeks:
I had a week of vacation where I managed to get a significant amount of baking and reading done. Hopefully in the next few days I will get a chance to post about my reading adventures. I managed to read 3 books in December, thanks to my week of vacation, which means I accomplished my goal of reading 12 books in 2015!
I went back to work and, again, struggled with the challenge of feeling like I’m not quite in the right place in life. Work is so busy, demanding, and tiring, and it makes me really question if I’m doing the right things with my life. 
Pregnancy has continued to be exhausting. I am almost 20 weeks pregnant now, which means that I am getting bigger, gaining more weight, and feeling more uncomfortable. The first few days back after my vacation I was feeling a lot of cramping and that was stressful. Thankfully it was only that – no bleeding, no contractions, no broken water. I think that the worst part of my job these days is seeing all the bad and unfortunate pregnancy outcomes. This week alone I think I dealt with at least 4 or 5 peri-viable (22-23 week) broken waters or deliveries. It’s been hard to see that happening. 
After all those difficult outcomes at work, the worst thing an anxious, pregnant mom of two boys could do is plan an anatomy ultrasound for the morning that her Christmas Vacation starts. After a tense hour of having a stranger smear gel over my swollen belly and take hundreds of pictures of my unborn baby without saying a single word, it turnes out that everything looks okay! Normal anatomy (including heart, spine, and palate), high anterior placenta, long, closed cervix… And, it’s a Girl! 

 

Feeling Overwhelmed

I am sad to report that over the weekend I just felt too tired and overwhelmed to finish the Nano Poblano challenge.  It makes me a little sad to think that I was so close and didn’t do it. But even now, it’s taken a lot of time for me to feel anything like a normal person and get back to blogging. I think this feeling started about half way through November, but I had been pre-scheduling so many of my posts that it didn’t matter. Some of you may have noticed, though, that I haven’t been around reading and commenting like I normally do. 

I just feeling very… Overwhelmed. Very tired. Very misunderstood. Very alone. 

I do remember this being the lowest point of my year last year, so I hope this is just a phase and that it will get better. In the meantime, I feel like I am losing the ability to cope well. Thankfully, today is my last day of work for the next 12 days. I am off to an out-of-town conference tomorrow for the weekend, and then on vacation until Dec 15. Hopefully in that time I will be able to recover some of my mental and emotional reserve.

I need some words of wisdom and encouragement, please! 

Relinquish Control

It hit me like a tonne of bricks this morning: Everything about my Freak out yesterday stems from my pathological desire to have control over everything.

I am imagining the conversation I will have with my psychologist later this afternoon: “I wanted to control something that I can’t control… it’s not my job to control this and really, it can’t be controlled.”

This control problem that I have is something that I’ve suffered with for a long time.  It has been an ongoing theme with my anxiety issues and something that my psychologist and I have been trying to work through for many many months.  Learning to recognize what I can and can’t control, and then accept those limitations is something that I am not very good at doing.  But then again, I suspect that many people have this problem as well; isn’t there a prayer for this exact problem?
Perhaps the reason I am feeling so bad about what happened yesterday is because subconsciously I know that I was trying to take control of a situation that I cannot control.  Not only can I not control this situation, I can’t change what happens.  What if that number had really been zero?  Or what if it was dropping – there would be absolutely nothing I could do to prevent the inevitable.  Yesterday, I clearly lacked the Wisdom to make such a differentiation.  I also lacked the serenity to accept the fact that this is something out of my realm of control.

It is a hard thing to accept – a lack of control.  In my life I struggle with the knowledge that I have control over very little.  I know this adds undue stress and anxiety.  I know I need to accept this truth and find peace with it.

God, grant me the Serenity…