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Are you running on empty?

Jul 11, 2022

Dear Bonnie,

 

I am sorry for your long wait yesterday.  My staff said she told you I was running far behind.  I wish all the times you have seen me and known me had made up for that delay.  

 

You have seen me on Thursday morning at 7 am when I met you before surgery. You have seen me stand by the operating table when you are going to sleep with my hand on your shoulder to give you comfort and let you know I am watching over you.  

You have seen me at the beginning of a clinic session when I am full of energy and patience to give you my full attention and answer all your questions and reassure your concerns.  You have seen me share about my family and listen about yours.

 

You have seen me help you with your sinus infections and headaches through sinus surgery.  

You have seen me to help you hear better with ear tubes.  

You have seen me remove the cancer from your lip and help it feel better when no one else would do anything.

 

Now, you have seen me after a morning of surgeries and a full afternoon of clinic when I am running over an hour late because I have had several patients with many, many problems and questions who took much more than the usual time and have pushed every other patient back and later than usual where I have exhausted every ounce of my patience and my smile as I simply am trying to survive and finish my day.

 

So, when I open the door and the first thing you say to me is:

“I have never waited an hour before and no one gave me any warning.”  

I had no brain power, patience or words beyond:  

“Let me get my office manager to help you.” 

 

Because my staff know to give patients updates when we are running behind and offer to reschedule you when I can’t possibly work any harder or faster than I’m already doing.  

 

And I don’t even have the energy to apologize to every single patient for the rest of the day and explain why a doctor runs late.

 

Please accept my apology.  

Now you’ve seen what I look like when I am running on empty.  

I am human too.

 

Dr. L

 

Are you running on empty?

 

Do you need to apologize?  To your life?

 

Do you need to remember that you are human and your life matters as much as your patients’?

 

This was an email I sent to a long-time patient who had a bad experience.  I felt so bad but did not have the time or mental space to even sit down and apologize.  I wondered to myself how long it would be until I saw the bad review and if I would ever see her again.

 

Do you need to create more time and space in your life?

 

She emailed me back.  

Here was her response:

 

Dr. L,

I felt so bad about yesterday.  I wished you would have stayed in there to talk.  

 

I was going to say… I was kind of sad.  

But it wasn’t you.  

 

I have been having a tough week.  

My dad is not doing so good and I am trying to prepare in case he gets worse.  

I had a student say to another student that he was going to shoot me dead with a gun.  

 

So, it wasn’t you.  

I would wait for you as long as it takes. 

Your email was spot on. 

I was going to thank you for all of your caring for me as a person and not only a patient.  

You are truly an amazing doctor and you looked so tired.  I am so truly sorry.  You don’t owe me an apology.  I owe you one.  And the girls in your office are fantastic.  I will call and reschedule.

 

Bonnie

 

We all need a little more grace for each other.  

We all need a little more grace for ourselves.

 

After I wrote that email with my bucket empty, 

I did something I would never have done earlier in my life…  

I played tennis.  

Two hours of sweating and not thinking and being present with the ball.  

Refilled my bucket.  

Cleared my head.  

 

Gave myself a little grace.

 

 

Sadly, Bonnie’s dad died. 

We all need more space to breathe.  

To slow down.  

To listen.  

To live.

We all need a change.

Breaking out of the medical mindset is here to help you change.  

Do you need to give a little grace to yourself?

 

Are you running on empty?

 

Learn more in Modules to Create Time and Space in the BOOMM 1.0 Course

 

The BOOMM 1.0 Course delivers you modules on breaking out of your “Doc Box”, disrupting your thinking, and expanding your self-image. Check it out here!

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