Friday, December 11, 2009

Another Day: The Life of a Clinical Neurologist

What a week this has been! I was going to post about a really lousy day I had earlier in the week (arising at 4:30A after having been kept up until after 11:30P the night before was the start of it all). In my sleep-deprived state I was feeling really bad for myself - and then I read GCS15's post. I've been there in the past; I remember coming home (too many times!) well after the kids were in bed, realizing that I was too tired to eat the great dinner that Husband had saved for me and making do with a bowl of Cheerios, and then falling into bed - only to do the same thing the next day (with a few stolen moments of sticky hugs and kisses prior to starting, which served only minimally to tide me over). After doing this for too many years, missing too many class events, too many birthday parties, too many competitions that I had promised to attend, I realized that I needed to make a change. It took a long time to find the right fit, but now I am fortunate enough to work only 4 days per week; while I have an occasional day that stretches beyond its boundaries, I've managed to limit my practice to mostly office work - which is far more predictable than hospital coverage. Less lucrative? Without question. But ultimately far more satisfying due to the time I can spend with my family. I admire any female physician who can routinely execute the rigors of a surgical career - and challenge those chauvinists who throw any derogatory phrases at their female colleagues to keep up with the double duty that the majority of working mothers perform on a regular basis - but I know that I cannot be successful at such a life at this point. So here's my day:

4:30A Fall out of bed (yes, really - I got caught in the covers after turning off the alarm. At least that doesn't happen daily); awaken Eldest for breakfast before [sports] practice - he's got to be there and ready to go at 5:15A. While he's eating, pack a second breakfast for him; pack lunches for Eldest and Youngest.

4:50A Eldest is safely on his way. In an Ideal World, I'd have been to bed by 9:30 and be rested enough to head out to the gym myself. Not today. Climb back into bed; try not to awaken Husband with my feet (which have turned into blocks of ice despite my slippers). Reset the alarm for 5:45.

5:45A Turn off alarm for second time; manage to get out of bed safely this time around. Ignore slippers at this point and head into kitchen to put on coffee. Realize that we only have enough left in our canister for about 3 cups - not the 8 that the pot is set up for. Figure out a way to get most of the water out of the coffee brewer so that I can have at least a sip of needed caffeine prior.

5:50A Start a load of laundry.

6:50A Showered, dressed, ready to go. Awaken Husband and remind him that I'm leaving early because I'm scheduled to give a lecture to the residents. Check on Youngest - remind him of his school obligations for the day. He wants to know why I'm leaving so early (usually I'm not out the door until he's left for school).

6:55A Reawaken Husband.

7:00A Get out the door and on the road. Realize that I've forgotten to pack the cord for my laptop and hope that the battery will last through my lecture. Further realize I've forgotten my watch. Stop at a local coffee shop and grab a large cup to go. Would love to get a pound to go, but don't have time to wait for it.

9:10A Finish lecture - 30 minutes later than expected, but it was a really good group with a lot of questions. Start drive to office - remember the coffee situation and pull into a Target. Run into the coffee aisle and realize that there are about 900 varieties of coffee - where's the one we like? Finally find it and grab three bags. Do I have time to buy drain cleaner for the slow drain in the upstairs bathroom, too? I'm here now, so I decide I'd better get it.

9:35A Get into the office. The 9AM patient showed up despite his phone call two days prior stating he had the flu and wouldn't be in. He's only a little grumpy, and his mood elevates when I mention that I was giving a lecture to a group of residents. "Teaching, eh? Good for you!"

11:30A Meet with a patient that hasn't been to the office in more than a year. She's in with her family; she's not doing well. Son is with her, as are other family members. Long discussion about transition to hospice care. End up spending more than an hour with patient and family.

12:40P "Lunch break" - optimistically penciled into the schedule as a 60 minute time without patients; due to add-ins, unexpected lengthy visits, and phone calls, this rarely happens as scheduled.

1P Start the afternoon schedule. Remind MA that I want to be out the door early for Youngest's sporting event. I missed his competition last week and still feel bad about it.

3:30P The gods are smiling on me; the last patient of the day didn't show, so not only am I done with physically seeing scheduled patients, I managed to get my paperwork done, too!

3:40P Out the door (this is usually 5:30 or 6)

3:43P Office manager calls to discuss a few issues that she didn't have a chance to speak with me about - our conversation lasts the entire drive time, as well as some time in the parking lot.

4:10P Find a seat in the stands. Another working mom sees me and moves to sit closer. "I don't know how you manage to do everything you do." I'll take this as a compliment.

4:25P Cell phone rings; RN from office with questions about patients. Answer as best I can despite noise from stands.

4:45P Cell phone rings again; RN from office with more questions about patients.

5:15P Look at cell phone to check time; realize I've missed another (!) call from office. Call back to address issues.

6:00P Sporting event over; have given permission for Youngest to be driven home (so he doesn't have to take bus) and wait for him to appear in the hallway. Take a call from a physician that I've been trying to reach for two days; the call lasts most of the drive home. I pout a little - this is usually the time I can really catch up with my child's life.

6:3oP Finish a really quick dinner so that Youngest doesn't start eating his own hand. Husband runs out the door to Eldest's sporting event; we've previously decided that we would not make Youngest attend all of Eldest's competitions, so we knew that one of us would stay at home.

6:45P Youngest reminds me that his science fair project proposal is due. I question him about the project, and he tells me that his partner was going to write it up. He calls the partner to have the proposal emailed over - only to find out that the partner has been unexpectedly kept after school and is just getting home. Nothing has been done.

6:55P Put laundry from AM into dryer.

7 - 8P Help Youngest and Science Fair Partner through the requirements of the project proposal; remind Youngest about other homework due the next day.

8P Realize that an early bedtime isn't going to happen....but am content in the fact that I'm at least at home.

9:30P Get Eldest and Youngest tucked into bed. Snuggle them an extra long time.

10P Crawl into bed. Find a crossword puzzle (I used to do them nightly - this one is from last week); fill in about six responses and

11:30P ...wake up to a line trailing across the puzzle. Finally turn off light and end day.



  1. Hey Artemis! Long time no post. Sounds like you're incredibly busy but also have happy healthy family.

  2. I love hearing about the activities of big kids. Sounds like a lot of fun. What did doctors (or mothers?!!) do before cell phones?!

  3. Wow! Exhausting to read. But also empathic. I love being a part of this group. It feels like family.

  4. Glad you've found a more reasonable position.

    Enjoyed reading about your day. This has been a fun group of postings!

  5. love this post, thanks for sharing :)


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