On high volume and low processing

Vacation week has officially begun. And it started with our baby pooping at 6a.

Mackenzi’s 17hr shift last night marked the beginning of our week of PTO. We plan to venture into Bethlehem for a Celtic cultural festival. I look forward to excellent people watching and weird food.

It hasn’t quite settled in yet that I will not be returning to the hospital tomorrow. It feels… wonderful. Two days off gives me the right amount of respite to brain dump and get ready to return. Nine days off? I’ll be relaxing in the backyard, if you need to find me.

That said, I’ve been realizing something insidious over the past few weeks. I see a lot of patients. I’ve probably seen more patients in the past twelve weeks of residency than I have in the whole four years of medical school.

Everyday this week, I have seen at least one patient who sticks with me. The kind of person and the kind of story that burrows their way into my brain. I keep tabs on them, even when I sign off from a psych consult standpoint. I want to know how they are doing. I want to know if they are able to make it home.

Over the past few weeks while Mackenzi has been on a brutal hospital schedule and we rarely see each other, I find myself looking up patient charts and reading about their day in the hospital. Even when I’m at home and playing with my baby, before he goes down for bedtime.

Some part of me can’t leave these stories behind. I need to know what happens, even if it is just through the electronic medical record and even if it is just while they are in the hospital.

Each of these stories would be a full 1000word reflection, if they happened during third or fourth year. Now, with the huge increase in patient volume of residency, I see one wild case and then move directly onto the next one. Rinse and repeat until I sprint home in order to spend time with my baby.

But I can’t leave those stories alone, at least not without some level of processing. And maybe keeping tabs on these patients every day is how I process during this time of massive growth. Just before writing this entry, I took 20min on my phone to review the dozen or so patients on my radar. Even on my first day of vacation, I can’t seem to let them go.


Relationally, I feel well. I am close with Mackenzi and we will spend much glorious time together over the coming week. My mother just left for Korea, to be with her own ailing mother. I had a lovely chat with her as I dropped her off at the airport.

Emotionally, I feel like a huge weight has been temporarily lifted. I do not need to return to the hospital. I can feed my son lunch and dinner. I can walk with my partner on lazy afternoon strolls. The long three weeks for Mackenzi are finally over. We can both breathe, even if it is not to last forever.

Physically, I feel tight. I have been moving irregularly and in ways that are very structured. I need more unstructured movement in my life. Dancing and wiggling. Shake out the tension of the past few weeks.

Spiritually, I feel a glimmer of connection. Maybe I need the ease of space and time in order to feel spiritually inclined. Admittedly, it is lower on the hierarchy of needs. I just feel so much better with a bit of room to think and process. I think this will be a good week for practices to return, and hopefully some of that will survive the resumption of hospital duties.

  • Relational – 4/5
  • Emotional – 4/5
  • Physical – 3/5
  • Spiritual –3/5
  • Total – 14/20
  • 3wk running total – 38/60

Long Form Sundays

On Death Podcast

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