I choke down my overdone cafeteria cheeseburger, bite by bite, hoping some extra ketchup will make it go down. I passed over everything else, nothing looking or sounding good to my weary soul as I haunted the cafeteria before close. Not even the fryer can save me tonight. It’s time for a final embolization of the night, a hemorrhage that needs me. Or at least, needs me to try. I need to just take the next best step, again and again, as I always have.
As I’m normally a good eater, this signals that something is wrong. Depression is likely. Somewhere between depression and rage is where I live, the last 15 months having descended into a hellish battle for everything I’ve worked for. I’m being taken advantage of in every way possible, and it’s legal.
Altruism kills, or maybe it could. It’s killing me. Like arsenic, it’s all around us, and okay in small doses. But not the amount I employed. Some people take, and some people give. It’s just the way things are.
In times like these I plod, one foot in front of the other. There will be times like these, in which you have to simply look at the options in front of you, and choose the best one. It’s like those multiple-choice tests you’ve groomed yourself for, in the process of becoming a doctor.
So my morning of making the next best choice looks like: inserting a tunneled catheter, a few ultrasound-guided procedures, and filling out locum proctoring forms. Saying hi to my colleague, and running to medical staff headquarters. Grabbing extra water and tea for my office, and seeing a consult. Every time I regroup in my office, I decide on my next best step. I prioritize. I’m running out of time to review committee documents before noon, but left my cell phone in the car. I run to the garage to retrieve it, so I can retrieve a pin to access a quick 45 pages of peer review notes. It’s a juggle well known to anyone who runs in circles for a living.
It’s a parallelism in IR and in life. In the moment, there are tasks and options in front of you, and you make the next best choice you can. I repeat that throughout my day, and in my life as an image-guided specialist. This “just make the next best move” mentality keeps me from getting overwhelmed, as the phone rings, and case requests pile up on the desk. I complete administrative tasks in a time frame balanced between avoiding complaints and letting them take over completely.
And in my personal life, I feel the landscape shifting and wobbling forward, jolting me, and keeping me up at night.
My little boy wakes me at midnight, having spun around in the bed. He’s lost, upside down and backward and I huff, tucking him back in beside me. It’s not his fault I’m battling my own personal bogeyman. He drifts quickly back to sleep, his rhythmic breathing a comforting, grounding sound beside me. He’s so beautiful. We are here together, and in this stressful moment, that’s what matters.
The path can be riddled with failures, even if you're doing it right. In this recording, I share some of my gaffes with you.