“The grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” – Allan K. Chalmers
Boredom, Isolation, and Loneliness of FIRING During a Global Pandemic:
In August 2019, we moved to Gainesville, Florida, to give our boys a more rural upbringing, etc. In early 2020, we sensed possible danger on the horizon and quickly moved up our home purchasing plan. So we looked at the sparse real estate inventory and bought a house.
Just as we settled in, COVID-19 hit. We hunkered down, self-isolating because my husband’s a front-line doc. We didn’t want to unknowingly spread Covid.
Never before had I felt this socially isolated. We were in a new city with a tiny support network. For a social introvert like myself, the extreme social deprivation due to self-isolating was beyond tough. I was going stir-crazy and desperately craved human interaction.
‘Living the dream’ of FIRE isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Even with our hands full with young kids, quasi-retirement turned out to be boring during our period of prolonged self-isolation.
Only with this realization did I understand why some actual older retired folks without hobbies or many friends are bored out of their minds. (Though, in retrospect, I realize maybe they’re not self-aware enough to understand that what they’re doing is acting out their boredom…).
It was only after I made the excruciating decision to return to work that I realized I yearned to be back with my doctor community. They were in the trenches and I wasn’t.
People much wiser than myself recommend picking a word for each year. After the dumpster fire of 2020, I decided the word I needed for 2021 was HEALTH. I even wrote it across the top of our wall sized, yearly planner in big, block letters.
At the start of COVID, I stress-lost weight, then immediately gained back more than double. Going into 2021, I was determined to fit back into my clothes again (it’s frightening how living in one pair of yoga pants (or scrubs) lends itself to not realizing you can’t fit into the rest of your wardrobe!).
Here’s the list of things that helped me finally lose weight by the end of 2021. I hope you can find some helpful tips in case, like me, you’d prefer to start using the rest of your wardrobe again:
Why would a FIRE doctor who came out of retirement to work during a global pandemic want to continue working once it’s over?
Glad you asked. 😉
The first two blogs of this three-part series were the most emotionally difficult blogs I’ve written to date. Thankfully, this third blog was much easier to write since I have so many reasons why I want to stay in the medical workforce:
This 3 part blog series explores the experiences and thoughts for the physician FIRE community on why I left FIRE to return to work due to Covid. (FIRE=Financial Independence Retire Early/Recreational Employment)
In the first blog, I wrote about the difficult decision to come out of early retirement as a Hospice and Palliative Care physician to work on the front lines during a global pandemic. This 2nd blog post details what that return felt like and what I found when I went back into the hospital.
I’m interrupting this anemically-scheduled blog series to provide a public service announcement: I’m a vaccinated, frontline physician who still ended up getting Covid. If you qualify, get your booster asap, because getting breakthrough Covid wasn’t an experience I’d want to repeat. Here’s what it felt like:
Difficult Decisions at the Start of a Global Pandemic:
I want to share with the physician FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early/Recreational Employment) community what my thinking was to leave FIRE and return to work.
In 2019, I resigned from the VA when we moved to Medellín, Colombia, for the summer. After we got somewhat settled in Gainesville in August of 2019, I half-heartedly applied for a part-time position at a local hospice.
But after exploring it, I sensed it was a chaotic work environment and knew my heart wouldn’t be in the job. For that reason, I ended up turning the position as a Hospice and Palliative Care physician down.
I intended to let my medical license lapse while I walked away from medicine completely. One thing made me renew my license, though. Now, this next bit sounds a little woo-woo, but in the interest of authenticity, I’m going to tell you.
If you’re burnt out from Covid and contemplating exploring nonclinical options, this book is for you. 50 Nonclinical Careers for Physicians is full of information on finding fulfilling, meaningful, and lucrative alternatives to direct patient care.
Dr. Sylvie Stacy wrote a much more comprehensive, and up-to-date book than this book review I did here.Physicians in Transition was a dated compilation of twenty-five interviews with physicians who quit clinical medicine and explored other ventures as ways to not only make money, but find more fulfilling careers.