Trigger warning: Parent death/dying, grief, mental health
It has been several months since I last updated my site. It has also been a while since I wrote a Catch Up With Me post. A lot of thoughts and emotions have been going through me these last few months. This will be a pretty raw and honest post about where I am at.
The hardest times in my life so far have been during these last two years – not because of residency, but because of the personal aspects in my life that I had to juggle during residency. What comes up in our personal life are things we cannot control. We must somehow learn to handle it and also handle our professional life as well.
Two weeks after my Dad died I went back to starting my last rotation in residency, ER medicine. I was not ready. Looking back, I have absolutely NO idea how I picked myself up, wore my scrubs and went to the hospital (thankfully not the same hospital ER that my Dad passed away in.) I got there early, sat in the parking lot and breathed through the emotions. I HAD to do this. I could do this. My Dad told me before he died, he wanted me to push through, finish up.
While in the ER, I would be busy, not having time to think but then, right in the middle of speaking with a patient or writing my notes it would suddenly hit me “Appa died.” I would feel like I was punched in the stomach. I couldn’t breathe. I would force myself to take deep breaths and resume my work. Bottling everything up until I finished my shift and got in the car. I would scream and cry my emotions out.
This was on and off for that last month. The whole time I had so many stories I wanted to share with my Dad but he wasn’t there. I wanted to tell him about the interesting patients who walked into the ER, the types of procedures I got to do, my first time giving rabies immune globulin to a trypanophobic patient who was bit by a raccoon (the dose is based on weight and I had to give her MULTIPLE shots – oh my goodness, it was traumatizing for her and for myself).
My final day of residency, July 31, 2022, should have felt like a big relief. A big successful achievement. I would have normally gone to my parents home, we would have all had a party that night with a big cake, hugs and smiles. It didn’t feel celebratory-worthy really.
I have been using these last few months to think, rest, feel my emotions, spend time with my family….and basically do nothing. I realized quickly though, the more time I spent doing nothing, the more I felt myself digging myself into a hole of too many sad thoughts and things spinning out of control with my emotions.
What I have been doing to keep myself busy: spending more time in my garden, talking walks with my Mom in the mornings, music, I tried to dabble in painting/art but I couldn’t focus, same with trying to read novels. I have joined a support group online for those who have lost a parent. I have also wonderful support from my family and friends. I have accepted that we don’t “get over” the feelings of losing a parent or parents. It does not get easier. It has been three months now and it feels like it was yesterday. Instead we somehow just learn to cope with it and keep moving forward.
I start my locum this month, in two weeks for a physician going on mat leave. For those of you who don’t know what a locum is, it is a physician who covers a practice for a short period of time when the original physician is on leave (eg. leave for maternity, sick leave etc.) Over the last several weeks I have been getting my paperwork in order, going into the clinic to observe the ways of how things are run, practice with the EMR, review billing. I will be taking some urgent care shifts as well.
The days I am in the clinic my mood is better, lighter, happier. Keeping busy IS important for my mental health.
Am I nervous? Yup! Scary? Yup yup!
It feels like a big transition from being a resident to now covering a practice where I make my own decisions and not have to run everything by an attending. Yes yes, I know there are always people/support around me that I can bounce ideas off of but it is still different. 🙂 I expect myself, at least for the first month or two to take longer and get used to everything but that’s OK. That’s how it will be.
My future goals: My plan is to take on a few locum positions before I start my own practice. I want to learn how to make my practice more women’s health-heavy. Also dabbling in urgent care to see if that is something I like as well?
I will type up another post as to the things you need to tick off and get done (at least in Ontario) before starting independent work. Here is a good list to review: https://joulecma.ca/sites/default/files/pdf/pmc/To-do-list-End-of-Residency-Specialty-ON.pdf
That’s pretty much about it. Nothing exciting these past few months. There will be more to write about once I start work in a few weeks. For now I will leave you with some of my beautiful garden photos.
Thank you everyone. Good luck to you and always feel free to reach out to me with questions.