Saturday, October 29, 2011

Breaking Up

As I walk out of the building, I wonder if I will ever step through these doors again. I feel a faint ache in my chest and my eyes tear up. We had a few good years-the building and I.

How many mornings had I rushed in at 6AM to evaluate and ailing patient? How many afternoons had I sat at the nursing station writing in charts and chatting with residents and staff?

My letter of resignation was an abrupt and unexpected end to an emotional connection.

I could no longer come to the facility.


There was a time, in my career, where I pictured myself a superhero. I swooped into patients rooms in the nick of time. It was a one sided arrangement.

As I matured as a physician, I realized that the doctor-patient relationship is much more complicated. It's more like a dance. Sometimes our steps are in unison. Other times it is as if we are listening to completely different music. But it's two sided. Like most relationships it is messy and complex. Each party has both needs and gifts that require nurturing.

How could I not be changed by my years at the nursing home? I think of the resident who would accost me while I was charting at the desk. How often we talked about baseball and the Cubs. I never had the courage to tell him that I knew nothing of such things. But with time, I came to expect this camaraderie. I learn to look forward to these encounters.


It's hard for a physician, nay a person, to admit that we can no longer meet other people's needs. Or better yet, that meeting these needs will encroach on our own.

As we grow and change, we take on these transitions with little thought. We leave practices and hospitals. We move to different cities or change careers. And for the most part, we are oblivious to all that we have left behind.

But today I will be cognizant. I will say goodbye to years of hard work and countless relationships built on blood, sweat, and even tears. I will not be ashamed of my sadness, nor deny that I am leaving behind some who truly need me.

I will also admit that my absence will not be a contradiction to the fact that I need them too. I will not pretend that this is just another day. I will not pretend.

That breaking up isn't hard to do.

No comments: