Alarm Fatigue: The Balance of Being a Physician and a Father
A physician contemplates how his career path will impact the lives of his children.
I look forward to and despise Sunday mornings. I wake up just before the sun and I'm on the road by 5:15 AM. Although I dread being upright so early on the weekend, I rejoice because it is the only trip to work all week that moves at a leisurely pace. I see the new patients at the nursing home, run by the hospital if necessary, and return just as my family leave their beds.
The 30-minute car ride gives me ample time to reflect. I often think of my father, who was a physician. He died well before I was old enough to understand who he was as a doctor, or as a man for that matter. I often wonder about the parallels.
Did he wake up early on the weekend so that he could come back before his kids noticed he was gone? Did he have my bedside manner? Or do I have his? Was he the kind of husband and father that I am?
Bringing up my own children has made me ponder the equal parts that go into building a young personality. My father died when I was 8 years old. Was that old enough to imprint on me this drive to become a physician? This will to work insane hours? To be relentless? Maybe it was all genetics. Maybe his behavior had very little effect.
These thoughts make me worry about my kids. I would give them everything they need to be happy successful adults if I just knew how. Or maybe by giving, I am causing harm. Maybe I need to let them run free without direction and let will be the guide. The possibilities are dizzying and the options endless.
So I plot and plunder as best as I can. I sometimes dole advice and other times I hold my tongue. I try to be an example of honesty, hard work, and integrity. I fail from time to time. Or maybe often.
I woke up this Sunday morning like every Sunday morning — before everyone else. In order to be a good physician and father. Driving the same roads, I had the same thoughts. I returned home to find that my son had crawled out of bed an hour early, slipped his clothes on, and was shoveling the neighbor's snow. Apparently he also had work to do.
And time passes, memories of Dad fade, and my children grow, forming their own paths.
They connect the lines between father and child.
Child and father.