Archive for January, 2023

We Don’t Know

“We don’t know” comes in many forms. For example, the car mechanic quizzed about a part failure often states they don’t know why it failed. The heater-air conditioner technician told me two weeks ago that he did not know why the blower motor was leaking oil. “It’s old.” Children who spray-painted the car are asked why often retort with “I don’t know.” Then there are medical doctors.

“Doctor, I was cutting vegetables. My right wrist, elbow, and shoulder hurt painfully with each cut. So much so that I had to stop.” The doctor looked at his computer, “That’s a great question.” The comment ‘that’s a great question’ is like, “We don’t know.” Of course, the pain could be tendinitis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, or “You sleepwalk and play drums all night.” A lot of times, doctors don’t know.

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Researchers report that 63% of physicians experienced burnout in 2021. It’s important to understand that burnout is different from mental illness. There are a couple of symptoms of burnout. Consequences of job burnout include excessive stress, fatigue, insomnia., sadness, alcohol or substance misuse, heart disease, high blood pressure, or type 2 diabetes. I am unsure if I have burnout. I believe I do, but I have not received an official clinical diagnosis. Of course, many factors contribute to burnout, including the stress of treating COVID-19 patients for more than two years. Unfortunately, none of the burnout’s other symptoms are valid outside of exhaustion and sadness. 

My former boss stated I should take advantage of medical leave (if required). I have not thought about it too much, but should one? Does the company have an obligation to accommodate my inability to perform the job? If so, for how long? Given that I am saddled with a terminal disease, what is honorable and not? However, taking advantage of such leave means stepping outside my comfort zone to have that required conversation.

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The company’s Human Resources issued an email titled “Yearly Goals.” ​Unfortunately, the email has been in my inbox, unread, for the last six days. I decided I was no longer interested in goals. Technically speaking, I do not want any further treatment, no radiation, no dexamethasone. I want nothing. I wish I were ready to go, but my body seems to say, “Nope. Not yet.”

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According to news reports, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, remains in critical condition (Tuesday). I hadn’t watched much professional football this year, but yesterday night, I sat in my chair, surfed to ESPN, and started watching the game at approximately the 7:01 mark of the first quarter. I was reading some prework material and missed the play that downed Hamlin. Looking up, I rewound the game to see what had occurred.

Upon viewing the play, the former medic inside knew what had happened. “Cardiac event,” I horridly whispered. Outside of watching professional soccer players experiencing cardiac events in old YouTube reruns, I have seen this type of incident only twice. And, I vivdly remember both.

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