When I was little, I used to be afraid that I’d grow up and lead a boring life. I wonder if this fear subconsciously caused me to make choices which almost preclude routine, because people tell me now that my life is never dull. I’ve always got stories about challenges, mishaps, and other chaos. (Side note: wouldn’t that make a good band album title?)
Last week as I got ready for work, I got a call from a police officer, informing me that my clinic had been robbed. (My boyfriend works for the TPD and had mentioned to me before that my office wasn’t in the safest part of town. …Sweet.) It took a little while before I discovered that I could still see patients that day, because apparently they didn’t take the furniture or anything else critical for normal business operation. The robber just shattered the front door (which was glass) and stole all our cash.
I mean, it wasn’t great, but not as bad as it could have been.
We had to secure the building before going home for the day. So a construction worker pounded on the makeshift wooden door just outside my office while I was in the middle of seeing a patient with a complex case. The only copies he had of his most recent labs were on his phone… and in Spanish. (I do speak some Spanish, but those were words I didn’t know.) So I was googling translations of the labs while I took his case… and then my EMR (Electronic Medical Records) software went down. I used Pages to type up the rest of his chart note, pasting it in to the EMR software once it started working again later.
Even though I tend to “complain” about episodes like these, the truth is that when my energy is high, I love the challenge they present. I think of them as an adventure (where here adventure = an out-of-the-ordinary circumstance requiring a creative solution), and the fact that I have “adventures” like this all the time is one of the reasons why I like my life so much. It’s only when I’m tired that I tend to crave routine.
I don’t think I’m all that unusual on that last bit, either. Most of my (adult) patients complain of fatigue, but hardly any kids do, unless they’re acutely ill. So then I thought, maybe the reason kids think adults are boring is because adults are all so freaking tired!
Case in point: another patient this week initially came in with fatigue and a bunch of other symptoms beginning about 6 months into a really stressful corporate job (which she just left). She hasn’t gone back to work yet; instead she’s had both the luxury and the wisdom to finally listen to her body, sleep the extra hours she needs and even take a few hours’ nap in the middle of the day. When I saw her for her first follow up, she was practically bouncing with energy, sporting a hiking outfit and a camelback. I told her how much I admired her for doing what she knew her body needed, even though it runs counter to what our culture says is acceptable, and it certainly isn’t considered “exciting.” But resting now will enable her to do other more exciting things later.
All that to say: I wonder if we adults could recover our childhood taste for adventure (and challenges, mishaps, and other chaos!) if we just gave ourselves the chance to recover.
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