He died mid-sentence. Eight years old and talking to me.
“My belly hurt, so I took some pepto from mom and-”
Eyes rolled up before they closed, his head lolled to the side, neck pulseless. Dead before we could hit the code button. An hour later, still dead.
Daily life as a doctor—in training and after—made me want to punch walls and forget the pain. If I wanted to avoid broken hands, I had to figure out a way to deal with the stress of being a physician.
Early on, I stumbled on two healthy coping strategies. I wrote a blog only my friends and family knew about. I also ran as long as my lungs would take me. My legs didn’t take me too far, but after awhile, I got up to three miles. Half a year later: half-marathons. Since doctors are chronically sleep deprived, the running not only seemed a bit obsessive, but an insane choice when given the option to sleep instead.
But I’d seen the other side, when doctors didn’t deal with burnout: they dropped out of medicine or killed themselves (and we all knew how to kill ourselves). I didn’t want to become another statistic.
So I ran and I wrote. And I’m still alive. But now that residency and fellowship is done, I have multiple medical memoirs gathering dust in drawers or on hard drives. But this time is gonna be different. I figure if I keep showing up and putting in the work, one of these days something will change. It may not stop patients from dying tragic deaths that don’t fit into the cycle of life, but maybe they’ll haunt my dreams less and find peace in my memories.
And maybe, just maybe, I can make a difference with my story telling, which in the end, is what most authors probably want—helping readers’ see the world a different way. One day, and one story, at a time.
Let today be the start of a new day. Welcome to my blog.