As the week winds down for most people, it actually starts to become busier for me. Most of my clinical work revolves around the week’s end as the full-time members of my practice group finish their week to head home for the weekend. My duties begin as I have agreed to fill-in and back up on the weekends as needed. This frees my week for teaching and study. I work in my spiritual and pastoral duties on Sunday mornings after rounding early; getting patient care under control.
This evening as a low pressure front came through from the west and over the Lake, the rain begin to pour. For my clinical practice, this generally allows for a less busy night. It is well-known that our criminal element doesn’t like to drive the streets in the pouring rain. The night is not hot but downpour has been steady, the emergency room not much of a problem as I spend time catching up on my reading, thinking and reflecting.
My day started out at 3:30 AM as most of my days begin. I usually head out for a run by the Lake in the early morning darkness, able to run in the street because there are few cars. Occasionally, I will wave at a police car on patrol, now familiar with the woman who runs in the early morning. On this morning, I will likely not be running as the rain pours in steady sheets against the windows of my call room and adjoining office. Without the sound of thunder or the flash of lightening, there is only the steady pitch of the falling rain to punctuate the sounds of the HVAC system.
If the rain stops, I will run around the hospital perimeter, staying in the street so that I can get back into the building if an emergency comes through. I tend to take over the urgent cases so that my call colleague can handle the trauma cases. At my age, the “sex and violence” of trauma is not appealing. The art and planning of taking care of an acute abdominal case is far more to my liking. I get a chance to teach, quiz and assist my chief resident who is becoming familiar with handling these cases. I allow him to take as much lead as he wishes, as I can follow his operative “thinking”. Being a teaching assistant in an operative case was quite a challenge for me but mastered as I became more comfortable in the role.
I want to hit the streets, become alone with my thoughts and meditations today. It will be first good run since undergoing a painful diagnostic procedure. I have become quite comfortable fending for myself when I undergo these procedures as I am aware of being alone in this city. In truth, I would have loved to have been able to have another person with me two days ago but there is no one in that role thus I take care of myself. Self-care is the hardest part of living alone.
As a physician, I care for others. I connect on many levels; attempting to provide what my patients need both physically and mentally. I realize that often the conversation about, the decision-making and the understanding of what needs to be done is more effective if I spend as much time as needed to get to know my patient well. As the part time back-up surgeon, I often get more time to spend getting to know my patients needs. My patients come for care; the care requires completeness in every aspect.
So tonight, as the rain pours in the street making everything reflect the orange-white cream icicle glow of the street lights, I can smell the freshness and dampness of water falling from the sky. When the rain lessens, I will likely try to get a run around the hospital perimeter; allowing myself to see the streets after the downpour. I will push myself to my limits of speed because today is a short, fast run rather than a long slow distance, saved for the weekend.
As I run along, the rain hides the tears that have become common in my life these days. I am not depressed, I am relieved and grateful for each step of life. I chose to live my solitary life, punctuated by my studies and running. I remind myself, that I can love greatly, fiercely and still be quite alone. The rain washes the streets but can’t make me worthy of the connections that I have made.