My new work schedule for 2008 is well underway. I was on-call for the hospital over the weekend which is nothing new, but now I'm also carrying the on-call duties over into Mondays. Today was insanely busy and brings it all back; the escalating stress of simultaneously multi-tasking issues that are urgent, semi-urgent and routine. I feel like I'm managing half a dozen different "pots on the stove", each cooking at a different temperature but all needing to be watched constantly. I'm absolutely beat and am still at work at 6:30 PM. I'm taking a brief break to write down my thoughts as my last patient for the day is just now checking into the Emergency Room and I can't do anything right now but just sit tight and wait.
My pager has gone off at least 20 times today.
My cell phone has been equally busy.
My children have both called me at work today; Laura about half a dozen times as we've tried to coordinate her visit to the dermatologist's office today. There were new prescriptions to be filled on her behalf (ok, add that to my list). Then, she was locked out of the house and did I have any idea how she could get in? I had her call her Dad on that one.
Mom called because the caregiver couldn't find her calcitonin nasal spray inhaler in the refrigerator; turns out she's all out and I've turned in a refill for her today.
The CPA called me in the middle of clinic and I had to let that one go to voice mail; although his message sounded urgent, I honestly didn't have the time to think about that one. Money can wait.
I saw 4 new patients in clinic today and 6 followup patients. I saw 4 hospital patients and one new hospital consult. And now the ER just called to let me know they are ready for me for the final bit of work before I can leave for the day.
My mouth is bone dry. Although I gobbled down some soup and a yogurt around 12:30 and have been trying to keep up with fluids, I feel like I've said more words today than I do in several days combined. Too much talking always dries out my mouth. When I go home I will become mute to try to recover from all the noise in my head.
I'm sore; I have "computer back" from sitting and typing all my notes today and reviewing records on line. We don't use paper charts anymore; it's all on a screen.
This feeling reminds me of 18 months ago when I did this every day, day after day, sometimes for up to 10-12 days straight without a break. I realize that this is a bone crushing pace and one that even a highly organized and experienced practitioner cannot keep going for very long. Perhaps a sprint but not a marathon, I often say.
If too many of my days are like this, I'm going to need to re-think my work (again). But for now, I will focus on getting the distractions down to a minimum; I don't think I will allow cell phone calls from my children while at work unless they have amputated a leg or worse (God forbid). And, Mom does not need to call about a missing prescription; it can wait. As for the CPA, he can wait too. Less volume, less input, less information and confusion will ease the unfolding moments. Something's gotta give.
Complain, complain, complain.