Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Long Goodbye

Well, it's the eve of my final day of full-time work and I can't sleep. Is there really any wonder why? Plus, my stomach has been acting up all week, my appetite is off, my back hurts more the last 48 hours, and my Restless Legs Syndrome is back with a vengeance, meds be damned.

Still, amidst it all, I am maintaining a relatively sunny outlook, and feel enormously good about my decision to leave.

On the phone with a patient this afternoon after having already said our official goodbyes yesterday, my patient said: "OK, I'm not going to say goodbye, because yesterday after we hung up, I burst into tears. So, see you later!" Gulp.

Another patient said, "Man, I'm gonna miss you so much. What am I gonna do without you?"

I also had four no-show's for appointments over the last two days. Avoidance, or just par for the course?

One of the hardest things is having already said goodbye to a patient, and then they call again and again with additional questions, and we have to go through the whole thing all over. Harder still is simply not being able to see everyone face to face, or wanting to make yet another visit to have further closure and simply not being able to do so due to time constraints.

These last three days have been simply hellish in terms of work load, and I have spent the majority of the week feeling under assault, a term my wife used to characterize what my job seems like most of the time.

I am always coming up with new metaphors for what our office is like, and this week it seems like a beach-head where an army has entrenched, digging bunkers and setting up strategic positions. Calls from patients are like shells lobbed into our midst, and the resultant shrapnel is the fallout of each call, sending us scurrying to put out the fires caused by each barrage. As each new call comes in, the administrative staff yell "INCOMING!" at the top of their lungs as we clinicians duck, hoping not to be hit with a bombshell of unmet need.

After seven years of such constant hammering away at my psyche, I'm ready for a rest from case management. I welcome the opportunity to simply go to work, be present for a shift, to give my all, to serve those in need in the moment, and then retire to my home with no further worries or concerns. While I am certain to eventually miss the long-term relationships which do indeed offer such richness, I welcome this change like manna from heaven.
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