I could hear the aggravated sound over the heart murmur I was listening to in room 3. My stethoscope rested calmly on the child’s chest, but the buzzing sound kept echoing in my head. After reassuring the concerned parents of the benign murmur, the mother jovially asked her next burning question: “so how sanitary is my husband’s hipster beard, anyways?”
This intrusion punctuated my thoughts. I had just walked out of room 2, mentally spent, after I helped a college kid bravely admitted he wanted to end his life today. I held space while witnessing his pain. And when it felt comfortable, I connected him with immediate support services. (No wonder his mom desperately begged for him to be “squeezed into” my packed schedule. Time well spent indeed.)
Now onto a quick suture to close a kitchen knife wound (“BAM!” as Emeril would shout), and I was stripping off my latex gloves before returning to room 3 for a patient who was worried about a new lump in her br----
Listening to our inner wisdom can come in the most unusual ways.
On this particular day, mine arrived in the form of an angry bee, trapped in an envelope. His wings buzzing ferociously. Stuck. Frustrated. Claustrophobic.
(Foreshadowing #1: there was no bee.)
Sometimes we ignore this inner voice (or maybe we just don’t want to hear what it has to say?). But with the Right Variables, at the Right Time, it can launch an intergalactic shift that exponentially changes our worldview:
Inner Voice + Receptivity = A Different Choice
Foreshadowing #2: Today’s noon meeting supplied the exact receptivity priming I needed to frame this buzz in a new light.
Here we were, a healthcare team assembled in our usual spots, like characters in a tired 90’s sitcom (but without the flannel and grunge soundtrack). The backdrop was our tiny employee lounge, where participants involuntarily played a brief game of musical chairs (the last ones to show up were forced to stand). *cue canned laughter* Plates of food and drink teetered precariously on our exposed laps as we reviewed our clinic’s vital signs.
We chewed silently while listening to grim statistics that judged our worthiness as Healers.
Did our patients get all their vaccinations? Mammograms? What was the latest Press Ganey score on the comfort of our waiting room?
There’s no doubt: Doctors are healers. But you can’t measure this abstract concept in monthly meetings. (It’s as futile as trying to measure the abstract cleanliness of a hipster beard). Instead, evidence of healing exists in the form of patient's life stories, where doctors play a supporting role:
“You can stop worrying, grandma. The doc says her murmur is nothing to worry about!”
“Remember that time I cut myself when I was slicing potatoes for our family reunion?"
“I’m so glad I told the doctor my dark feelings when I was home for Spring Break.”
I reflected on my productive morning of healing, ironically juxtaposed with this Metrics Meeting to highlight our inadequate productivity measures.
Walking into room 3 to start my afternoon of patients, and I felt like a well-oiled machine; I parked myself in front of the computer keyboard and began dutifully tapping. This sweet elderly grandmother was one of my faves ever since we bonded over our shared love for "Ellen".
Her spouse of 52 years passed away last week. My typing ceased. I rested my hands in my lap and continued her visit with the solemn attention that she deserv------
This was the sound the label printer made as patients registered, waiting to be seen. Each buzz represented another world of expectations, concerns, worries, anticipations, uncertainty that I was trained to unravel and solve in less than 20 minutes. And all I could think of was: this was NOT the way I want to deliver medical care any longer. I don’t want to feel frustrated, trapped, or claustrophobic like that bee in an envelope.
Today, this BUZZ was the sound of my inner voice.
And I was finally receptive to listening. That buzz marked the end of my career as an employed rural family physician, and the beginning of a Different Choice.
Creative people tend to score high in levels of openness and curiosity. We also notice our environment more. My mother might argue that years of clarinet lessons is what primed my brain to react to this situation (I would offer it was my brief foray with the Emo world in 1993).
Nonetheless, researchers agree: creativity is within all of us, and these skills can be strengthened to promote more innovative thinking and improve our self-care. Humanity depends on it.
This is exactly what the doctor ordered.
This Friday, March 30, clinics and offices will be celebrating another "Happy" Doctor’s Day. Is it truly a "happy" doctor's day? Doctors don't need complimentary tote bags stuffed with monogrammed pens, drink koozies, or coupons to show appreciation. What doctors really need is immeasurable.
Doctors need a Different Choice.
This "different choice" is unique for each person, and it may come in many forms: Perhaps it's a better pillow to sleep at night because you noticed your neck aches every morning. A move to a new location because this job opportunity keeps noodling around your head. Or maybe a healthy spring cleaning (a la KonMari) of your office space to cheer you up.
Whatever it is, you can’t excavate your Different Choice without clarity of your inner voice. By nurturing creative thought and expression, it gives rise to a healthier, more balanced experience on this earth.
THIS is what the "angry bee" was trying to tell me.
I followed this inner calling to create Right Brain Rescue, the first program of its kind to offer burnout relief for our Healers, in the comfort of their own home. Through nourishing creative activities, participants will graduate with a stronger sense of agency and revitalized wellness. This project combines the latest in neuroscience brain reseach and functional medicine to deliver an interactive experience, unique to each participant. With hundreds of scientific literature references, practical creative exercises, and gamified workbook, I can't wait to unleash this tsunami of creative change in 2018. Our healers need it.
Until then, here’s three ways you can show your favorite doctor you care this Doctor’s Day:
INCLUDE THEM: Sign up for Right Brain Rescue updates so you don’t miss insider announcements as launch date approaches!
BRING AWARENESS: Share this blog post on facebook or email (click button below)!
SHOW SOLIDARITY: Give them a post-it note smiley face to wear when the day is long and coping skills are low (see below). Extra bonus if you send a cell phone pic to firstname.lastname@example.org to get VIP discounts on Right Brain Rescue!
Observe your environment.
Listen to those buzzing bees.
Be open to Different Choices on this Doctor's Day.