So, as I understand it, the end is near for my cancer treatments. This week is supposed to be the week. The last chemo. Wow. Just to say it out loud is really something. It doesn’t even seem real. Could it really be true? Of course, when I speak in terms of the end, it is not really the end. The next five years of my life are pretty well mapped out with follow ups and scans and appointments. It is really at the end of those five years that it is really “over,” not just at the end of chemo. There will always be that little forever shadow monkey on my back that things could take a turn for the ridiculous again.
I would be lying if I said that I am not excited about the prospect of chemo being over. But, weirdly, at the same time, I am a bit terrified as well. No more chemo?! While that means, hopefully, no more of the awful side effects after they all wear off. It also means no more internal liquid defense system. It also means that there could be more opportunities for the cancer to creep back into my life. Hmm. How will I know if it is coming back? In the interest of respecting the post traumatic stress aspect of being a survivor, I made a promise to myself not to panic at every little twinge or symptom that I experience after treatment is over, but should I? Or should I be hypervigilant? I don’t really know the right answer.
I am looking forward to feeling like myself again, to having stamina, to being able to exercise, to being able to have hair again (hopefully completely different and thick and amazing), and to feel, dare it say it, sexy again. But, I hear that that is going to be an additional wait as well. I have been told that it can take up to six months before patients feel back to baseline. This kind of statistic just makes me anxious because I suspect that it will be a natural tendency for everyone, including myself, to expect me to pick up right where I left off before treatment as far as work and life in general. I have a gift for putting extra pressure on myself and I am sure this will be no different. Well, at least I am consistent in that regard…lol
Basically what I am saying is that I am kind of all over the place right now. I have no idea how to feel. Part of me is ready to throw caution to the wind and literally have a party( socially distant of course) to celebrate the end of this chapter. The other part of me realizes that there is a whole lot of other stuff to consider before the party can begin.
So, I am sitting here right now, trying to relax. I am supposed to be on vacation and yet my mind is spinning with thoughts about my business. Are my patients going to be okay? Will my colleagues care for them like I would? Are any bills going to be late? Did we tie up all the loose ends before we left? Will there be any money in the bank when we come back? Is there anything I forgot? Will all my followers move on when I don’t post for a week? Will I miss any job applications? Will I miss a deadline I didn’t know I had while I am gone? It just goes on and on.
I guess that that is the life I signed up for. You are never truly “off” …..at least, not if you are really in it to win it. It is the compromise that you strike the second you sign on the dotted line to commit to a private practice sans safety net type of scenario. I have no set hours or guaranteed salary. However, I am at least philosophically the master of my own destiny. In reality, my success also depends on a number of third parties like insurances, reimbursements, billing companies, vendors, and employee work ethics. So, I am kidding myself if I think that I alone can guarantee or swamp my career.
I am not a 9 to 5 type of physician and I never wanted to be. I look all around me and see the significant disincentive to starting private practice. Medical school graduates now seemed to be groomed to think that private practice is impossible and that they NEED the backing of a large conglomerate, set hours, employed practice in order to even entertain the possibility of being a physician. It’s a shame really. What these new docs have traded for this implied security is stamina, work ethic, commitment, and dedication. To be 100% transparent, this is only my opinion based upon what I have observed all around me with the newest generation of doctors. I am not trying to be some hard core, stone age dinosaur, but I have literally seen resident physicians turn away mid conversation about a patient if that conversation was occurring when their shift was over. That is just not what I want, nor do I feel that that is appropriate. That is going too far in the 9 to 5 direction. We are not office workers. We are responsible for lives.
The private physician is slowly but surely going the way of the dodo and being replaced by shift workers with set hours and volume driven goals at the expense of quality. For me, the world does not stop the second that the office phones get turned off. My responsibilities are not just handed off to the next guy. That is not my reality and that is OK. I am not saying that I never need a break because, in fact, I do. I really do sometimes. It’s just that I am not going to spend time whining about the inconvenience when I chose to have it this way. It would be kind of ridiculous. Now, having said that, I am sure that my family would not agree that I should always be on. It definitely goes against that eternal quest for balance that I am always talking about. Yes, yes, I do actually listen to myself when I am attempting to espouse wisdom to the masses. I guess what I really saying is that I still just need to work on it.