I remember quite vividly the last time I left the hospital from working. The idea that it might be the last time I worked was not really a thought but there was some odd sense that it was the last time for awhile I would be in the hospital working. In fact my premonition was true. The next time walked into Providence hospital was to be admitted for my third round of chemo which by itself was a rather boring process but led to a few weeks of extremely rocky shores, nasty waves and a near shipwreck revolving around my toxic liver. Although I have since been back to Providence for labs, meetings and to see a few friends tomorrow will be a new experience.
I have talked so lovingly and passionately about missing work through out this monsoon of cancer. The routine of it, the challenge, the mental stimulation, the people, and the sense of accomplishment. Granted the accomplishment is not really that impressive but working does bring that feeling of having gotten something done even if you do not have physical evidence to prove it. In this sense I really do feel like it is and accomplishment. Tomorrow night is only going to be one night of work which is no real feat but it is forward progress.
One thing which does make me feel good is that many times during the last year and a half of being sidelined I have thought about how funny it is that even if I was really sick I would still find it beneficial to go to work. I believe this is some weird fetish which physicians seem to have. I remember early in my time in Alaska I overheard a physician talking to someone else about how despite recently being diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation, being shocked, and starting coumadin which made him feel poor he felt better coming to work. This little scene stuck with me and even these days crops up in my thoughts. I have had partners who injured themselves and still came to work within days if not the next day (a dislocated shoulder, a fractured elbow). I remember one partner coming out of the bathroom just pale and telling me he was puking after ever fourth patient but that he could make it. Yet, another showed up one day and had her thyroid cyst drained in the ER before heading out to see patients. I myself went to work one day once after a visit to the ER the night before for a concussion. I was told later that my hand-off (patient sign out) was actually one of the best I ever did but the patients were a bit scared by my fat bloody lip and scrapes on my face.
So The fact that I will be going into work for one night is still an accomplishment in that I can say I have cancer (hopefully that is a had cancer but I can’t really ever be sure given the nature of my cancer) and I still went to work. It would have been more dramatic had I been able to go last year when I was in the thickest fog of cancer but maybe that wouldn’t have been so smart. I am still excited and proud that I am going to head off tomorrow night with my two pagers and the stethoscope. Hopefully I will remember quite vividly my return as a physician to the hospital for years.
Head Up, Heart Strong. I need a cure.