What a Privilege

NaBloPoMo 2020 – Today’s Lesson

I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it:  People are suffering.  Not everybody, but many, and many pretty badly.  A prolonged global pandemic, unprecedented political polarization, escalating agitation for social justice—any one of these would be enough to push us over the edges of our sanity, and yet here we are, surviving all three and more.

I know it’s a challenging day when I’ve handled three phone calls before getting out of the car at work in the morning, and in the afternoon I think Hallelujah and give joyful thanks for one patient’s globally negative Review of Systems and another’s 95% oxygen saturation.  But this is also the most fulfilling day.  I did good work today.

Like most primary care doctors, my message volume has increased by about 30-50% in recent months. Complex questions and issues require time and patience to think and talk through. Many cannot be readily answered or solved, and the uncertainty calls out all of our anxieties and defenses, insecurities and grievances. Every patient experiences this historic moment in a unique and acute way. As the storm rolls over the neighborhood, I see it land on each doorstep, knowing what’s already in the house—how the furniture is arranged, what’s in the closets, maybe even the state of the foundation. I am allowed inside, invited to inspect and advise.

What an amazing privilege to be a physician in this moment, to witness, and to help.  This is absolutely what I signed up for, what I’m called to, and what I trained for.  I promise to do my best, and we will get through it together.

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