Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Running for My Money

Today was one of those days where this line of work can give an earnest Nurse Care Manager a run for his money. (And I do certainly feel like I'm running for my money today.)

First, there's the patient with acute psychosis who apparently went on an inhaled heroin binge this weekend to celebrate finishing a very important multiple-month medical treatment. She told me that a friend had suggested going out to a fancy dinner instead of blowing her money on heroin. "It was actually a pretty good idea," she said with a laugh. After discussing the voices in her head and her non-compliance with taking her medications, she agreed to go by ambulance to the ER for an evaluation.

Another patient just seems to be having a hard time getting his life on track (a familiar complaint and observation here at "Train Wrecks 'r' Us". I feel deep compassion for his suffering, but sometimes it seems we just have to sit and let them work it out themselves.

The next patient complains about my long leave-of-absence, and says over the phone, "You mean, you've been back since yesterday and you haven't called me yet? I missed you so much!" How will I break the news to her that, in five weeks, I'll be permanently gone from her life?

Still another patient hears the news of my imminent departure and says, "Oh no! Another doctor leaving me behind? What next?" (She always refers to me as her doctor.)

These and other reactions are enough to make me feel guilty for leaving, but then I simply remind myself of the reasons why I'm leaving, the multiple stressors, the fast pace, the overwhelming feeling that I am running a race with no end in sight. I've been running like this for seven years, and working full-time for eleven.

We all run for our money in many ways, and any line of work will generally keep one running. This particular line has simply worn out the treads of my old Nurse Care Manager tires. I'm just due for a tune-up, some new treads, and a new place to run. In old-fashioned terminology, I'm "plum worn out" and have opened myself up to a new way to make my living in the world. The hardest part of that process is saying goodbye, and that is without a doubt par for the course.
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