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Sweet Reminders

The last few months at work have been quite challenging. Long story short, on August 31st, 89 of my colleagues, with whom I have worked for 18 years, left our organization to form an independent medical group. I was the only provider in my office that chose to remain with our organization. Once again, I never imagined that 18 years into my career, I would be recreating my practice. But, if you’ve read my book, you know my life verse is Proverbs 19:21. Carmen may plan all things, but the Lord‘s will be done. Here we go again! I have experienced a veritable plethora of emotions in the last six months as my partners prepared to leave. I have felt isolated, lonely, and ostracized. I am at peace with my decision to stay, but practicing in my office for the last few months has felt oppressive. I have tried to be light in the darkness and interact with my partners with kindness and grace. But, I have longed for the transition to be over.

Over these last few weeks, however, I have been reminded of how incredibly blessed and grateful I am to be a physician and to practice where I do. God showed up. Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to host a party for my office staff and their families in my home as a “transition celebration.” It was a blessing to spend time with these folks outside of work who have committed to take excellent care of patients during long work hours. Often, we spend more time with our work colleagues than we do with our families. I am humbled and honored to work with such an incredible group of people. Then, this week, I had the joy to care for many of my patients with whom I’ve had long-standing relationships. And, I’ve been inspired and infused with a renewed sense of my calling into medicine. On Tuesday, I saw a patient who recently underwent an orthopedic procedure. I walked in the room and was blown away by her creativity. This patient is always completely put together and dressed like she is stepping onto a runway. I have never seen her without lipstick glistening, nails shining, and shoes and purse matching. I just chuckled when I saw how she had bedazzled her walking boot! In the midst of a great inconvenience, she had turned her new appendage into fashion accessory! Where was she last December when I had broken my own ankle and needed a little bedazzling? I whined the whole time I wore a boot. I wish I had borrowed her charisma!

A few hours later, I saw two dear patients, both of whom are facing difficult medical situations. One is dealing with an inoperable cancer. Her life expectancy is limited. Yet, she chose to bring me a loaf of homemade banana bread and thank me for the care I provided. How truly amazing! I just cried.

Within a hour, another patient came in bearing a jar of homemade tomato soup. She too was in the midst of a work up for a complicated medical condition. Despite the diagnostic uncertainty she was facing, she chose to bless me with the fruits of her labor! She had no idea that I was already thinking about dinner that night... how I was going to get it on the table between all of my kids’ activities. God intervened in the form of a jar of soup! And, my kids thought I was a rockstar when we had homemade grilled cheese and homemade tomato soup for dinner that night!

The very next day, a patient came in bearing a vase of roses that she and her husband had grown and arranged. She noted that she had been watching the story of my medical group unfold in the newspaper, and she wanted me to know that I had been a sweet fragrance in her life. That vase of flowers adorned my pod for the rest of the week. And, I smiled every time I walked by it.

Yes, my work environment has drastically changed. But, my calling has not. I ran across this Scripture and it resonated with me:

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3

I am building a new work environment and recruiting new colleagues. However, my calling remains the same. God, thank you for bedazzled boots, banana bread, tomato soup and roses!

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