Who am I?

Long time followers of this blog know that we started it based upon a shared quest to be better to ourselves, our bodies, our families in the midst of very demanding careers as trauma surgeons. As the one who started the blog, I must admit that my initial intention was to focus on what made us whole outside of work. And so, much of the content, especially early on, was about our shared interests in hot heels and all things fashion, our efforts to stay healthy donning our cool kicks or our ballet socks, and our challenges as wives and mothers whose day jobs require a scalpel.

But as time passed, we wrote more and more about our professional experiences, because it turns out a large part of our whole is what we go through at work. After all, with 4-10 nights per month on in-house call and standard 120 hour weeks on service in addition to research, service and society work to advance our academic careers, we spend many, many more hours on the work part of ourselves than the outside of work part of ourselves.

Since my hope had been to share the outside of work part of ourselves in this blog, as I found myself writing here more and more about work related issues, I recently created separate blog. I told @surgeoninkicks it would be my “professional blog” where I could share some of the darker stuff that affects us (i.e., someone interested in my Jimmy Choos may not want to be confronted by the sorrow that I feel when I lose a patient). It would be a blog where I would write about the experiences that help me maintain joy in the profession.

However, the reality is that the two sides of our worlds are not separable. Maintaining joy in the profession in inextricably linked to finding joy outside of work. @surgeoninkicks understood this but it took me longer to confront this reality of who I am.

I am a surgeon in a specialty with extraordinarily high rates of burnout, with hours that pose significant logistical challenges to self care, family life, and extracurricular activities, and with routine exposure to human pain and suffering. I do feel joy in doing my best to care for patients and their families. I did choose a career path where I would be balancing non-clinical and clinical work. I do have a husband, two children, a dog, many friends, and interests outside of work. I do feel stress in juggling it all and routinely engage in retail therapy as an elixir. I am not nearly as fit and healthy as I want to be. This is who I am. 

So, this week I will migrate the few posts from my other blog into this venue. I will continue to write about all the facets of who I am in this blog, a blog I am so lucky to have shared with a true soul mate in @surgeoninkicks.  She has seen me through this crisis of online identities and I am ready to share completely. Thank you for the continued readership. Your enthusiastic support of our work is greatly appreciated.

19 thoughts on “Who am I?

  1. I read this blog because I am a physician looking to hear how other people think about and make space for their “whole” selves. I think the mix of topics is actually a good thing, and I’ve liked the more serious topics when they’ve come up before — but you also motivated me to buy my first St. John.

    • Well thanks Amy for reinforcing what @surgeoninkicks was telling me all along. I don’t know why I struggled so to share the more reflective essays here but starting tomorrow they will be here. I will share one a day until Friday at which point I will be caught up. Also, how did you like the St John? Worth it, no?

  2. As a mom and OB/GYN at a big city teaching hospital I have loved this blog, looking forward to the next phase. It is hard to reconcile the ups and downs of this career with the need to just be a mom and wife and also have that precious personal time, you share it beautifully in this blog. Thanks!

  3. I have loved this blog-as a mom and an Ob/Gyn at a big city teaching hospital I really appreciate the writing. It is so hard to reconcile the ups and downs of this career with our need to just be a mom and wife and still have personal time for fitness, fashion or whatever. I look forward to the next phase, thanks for taking the time to share!

    • Thanks for following Mary. The challenges of ob/gyn are quite similar to trauma with the 24/7 presence and devastating nature of complications. So glad you have enjoyed so far.

  4. I enjoy your blog. I only follow this one, not the other, but I completely get your point. I am a general and bariatric surgeon/ mom/ wife/ dog owner as well, who struggles to keep myself “whole” with work demands and wishes I could exercise as much as I inspire my weight loss patients to do. I was in a previous job where I was told, “Don’t take things so personally.” I am finally in a position where I can say, “It is personal.” The impact I make on others lives is personal and I am privileged to be part of such an intimate life and death relationship with many patients. My non-physician friends and family don’t understand the personal sacrifices I put up with, and occasionally, I wish it didn’t have to be that way, but the professional and the personal are intermixed when we give so much of ourselves. Thanks for the inspiration for knowing I’m not alone!

    • Stephanie, thanks for this affirming comment. Means a lot. I totally get the feeling of isolation that surrounds our hectic lives no matter how many people we are surrounded by.

  5. I love the blog with all the aspects of life in it. I struggle with the clinical vs. non-clinical. I want all of it in one blog! Thanks,

    Dr. Jodi Lovejoy Doctor of Behavioral Health Former Hem/Onc Therapist On Apr 3, 2016 12:55 PM, “Hot Heels, Cool Kicks, & a Scalpel” wrote:

    > surgeoninheels posted: “Long time followers of this blog know that we > started it based upon a shared quest to be better to ourselves, our bodies, > our families in the midst of very demanding careers as trauma surgeons. As > the one who started the blog, I must admit that my initia” >

  6. I’m glad you didn’t “out” yourself. I don’t need to know who you are, as much as what you stand for. I’ve seen the retaliation in medicine for those who tell the truth. Its not pretty. That is a more darker side of any nature than what you see in the OR. You can cure a physical issue a whole lot more easier than a heart issue.

    That is something I can quite well attest to.

  7. This is well said. Authenticity can be hard to come by for women in medicine, but once we have the confidence and maturity to be who we are no matter which role we’re in, relationships get better.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing stories from the various aspects of your life. As a first year medical student beginning to think about where I might want to take my career I find your posts both inspiring and insightful.

  9. I’m not a physician but a CVOR nurse, I can relate to the demands of being a wife, mother and friend and trying to do it all and do it all well. I appreciate the sharing of your experiences. For me, it can be very hard to articulate the stressors we face everyday to my loved ones. They tend to have a glamorized television version of what it is they think we do. Never realizing that we may have just walked out of a surgery where the patient didn’t make it only to walk right into the next emergency surgery. Never having the time to process the battle that was just waged, or the one you’re about to face.
    Yes it is my choice to do this job and I can’t imagine doing anything else. My point to my very long winded comment is, reading your experiences puts into words many times the emotions that I feel but don’t want to trouble my family or loved ones with. It’s refreshingly honest and heartfelt so thank you!

  10. Love that you’re writing this. I am a general surgeon, a self proclaimed shoe whore (how can you NOT wear heels?!), a gym class addict (my two vices are strength training and kickboxing), and mom of 3. I totally feel you. If you’re ever in the SF area, we should hang out!

  11. Very inspiring to read this. As a mother-of-two who has just applied to medical school, I am motivated to read about your joys as well as your struggles. Thank you for sharing!

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