What physicians should do when life gets in the way

There are times in our journey as doctors when life gets in the way.  Well, life got in the way, and I had to go back to the basics and deepen my understanding and connection to my self and my source to easily navigate the curves and the bumps in the road.

I had to figure out a way to move through the tears that came with the diagnosis and poor prognosis of a relative who is so very dear to my heart.  I had to be willing to simply observe myself and be gentle with myself as I shifted from the knowledgeable doctor, advocating for palliative care services in a country whose system I am unfamiliar, into the woman who is blessed to have a true, deep and meaningful friendship with an elder in my family and only wants more time to sit by his side and listen as he shares his wisdom and keys to a successful life.

  1. I heard him say that he had two jobs during his lifetime, both of which he loved. There is wisdom in that.
  2. I heard him share how he invested in himself by taking classes to advance his sewing and cooking skills, hobbies that he thoroughly enjoyed and shared these gifts with family and friends.
  3. I heard him talk about what it takes to build meaningful relationships. There are always lessons there.

These are just a few of the gems that I’m holding dear to my heart and working on integrating into my life as I move into the next level of well-being in my life and career.

As doctors, we know there are predictable outcomes for certain diagnoses.  We give patients information about their conditions all the time.  But we are also the loved ones, the relatives and the friends of someone who receives the diagnosis of a terminal condition. That’s when we have to learn to dance between who we are behind the white coat and stethoscope and who we are when we take the white coat off and put the stethoscope down.  That’s when it can come crashing down around you, or you can connect the person with the physician for a new level of self-awareness and understanding.

I can honestly say that on this journey, I did both.  At first, the diagnosis of my relative hit me like a ton of bricks.  I wanted more time.  I was sure we had more time as a family.  Slowly I began to realize that wishing for more time kept me focused on the end.  I wasn’t being in the present moment appreciating the time that I do have.

I changed my focus. I started to ask different questions, the questions that would get me closer to what I wanted – meaningful time with him.  That’s when I received just that.

When we can define what we want and shift our focus towards whatever it is, that’s when it shows up.  Yes, it can happen even in the midst of the most difficult times in life.

So dear doctor reading this, when you are in the midst of some stress, struggle, or disease in your medical career or life, that’s the exact right time to make an appointment with yourself to define and decide what you really want in your life and stop holding on to what you no longer desire.

Stephanie Wellington is a physician and can be reached at Nurturing MDs.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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