Post 80 - A Personal Note: Lost (a Job) and Found (Gratitude)
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, this is a personal post about making myself feel gratitude throughout 2022 - even if I had to get creative, search high and low, step out of my comfort zone, and set aside my ego.
2022 started out similarly to 2021. I was working part time as a palliative care physician employee, making home visits two days per week (I started working part time after I had the third of our four children). I felt that I had plateaued in my position - where I had been working for several years - however this restlessness was alleviated by moments when I felt real purpose and satisfaction, perhaps after helping a patient or family through particularly difficult decision making or when watching a patient previously chairbound in pain walk across the room after getting their pain under control! And I really liked the people I worked with.
Then less than a week into 2022, I was told the program was no longer going to sustain part time palliative care provider positions. My options were essentially "full time or a letter of rec."
I eventually made the decision to leave, and as soon as I made my decision, I turned in my resignation letter. I had not yet lined up another position (this was difficult in a city whose medical community is fairly conservative and has difficulty seeing value in palliative care), so I had waves of anxiety about an unplanned future.
I also experienced multiple identity crises. Do I still call myself a doctor if I'm not actively working? If I'm not a palliative care doctor, then what am I? Is this the time for me to trial once again being a full time stay-at-home mom? My husband said I became short tempered last time I tried to be a full time stay-at-home mom but that was two kids ago...maybe I've evolved and I'll be able to find meaningful work in the non-traditional sense. Should I become "that mom who's always at the school?" Should I become a ROOM PARENT?
Six months later, I am still "between jobs," and I am thankful that I am.
When we learned my youngest has a medical condition that will likely impact him life-long, I am grateful I had the time (during work hours on weekdays!) to talk to specialists, surgeons, and speech therapists.
When we did not have someone to help us drive each of our four kids to and from their respective schools for two months, I am grateful I had the time to fully take on the extra driving responsibilities without angst about childcare.
When I noticed a direct correlation between my chasing after the kids at the park or while hiking and my wanting to vomit, I am grateful that I had the opportunity to join a gym, fall in love with running, and get in shape!
Publishing a "palliative care specialist in your back pocket" guidebook for patients and families has been on my bucket list for years. When I realized I was dragging my feet in getting my book published because of imposter syndrome, I am grateful that I had the hours, quiet, and space to read about imposter syndrome and work things out in my head. And now Own Your Care: A Family Guide to Navigating Complex Illness, Changing Health, or Unexpected Prognosis is coming out in April 2023!
At one point, while I was seriously questioning my professional value (probably during one of those identity crises), I was delighted to learn that I had made impact in unexpected ways! People whom I had worked with in the community promoted my work and my passion for palliative care, and after a series of word of mouth connections, a couple part time palliative care-related positions became available! Perhaps I will be seeing palliative care patients again at the start of 2023.
What I am most grateful for is that I learned that I do not need to rely on the label "doctor" to feel that I can bring value to the world. I can bring value as "instructor," "blogger," "friend," "Mommy," "wife" - and these are only parts of me. I am still Jeanne, I am still whole, and I still matter.
I lost a job in 2022, and I found gratitude.