Equanimity: The quality of being calm and even-tempered; composure. A state of stability arising from a deep awareness and acceptance of the present moment. Evenness of mind, especially under stress.
When my husband got a call offering him a short-term but highly regarded job, I was both happy (money!) and worried (he’ll be traveling for eight days, and leaving me and my mom with 2 kids under 2!). He works in TV and radio and takes jobs by contract. Right now he’ll take anything he can get.
So even though I was going to be on call for my practice for the week, and one of our childcare backups is down for the count, we decided he should go for it. We have my mom for help, and she approved of his taking the gig.
So off he went.
And then call started. We take call for a solid week at a time, answering pages/taking admissions/doing discharges/rounding on inpatients/being the backup person for whoever is out.
Now, our practice is smaller, and it’s generally not that heavy a service. But this is my first call after baby #2, and baby #2 is, at 6 months, not sleeping through the night. She wakes up for a bottle at least once a night. She of course did that on Thursday night, and I was nervous so I didn’t fall back asleep.
Call started Friday at 8 am. My poor mom got to my house, watched the kids so I could shower and dress, then I helped her load them up into her car, and off they all went to Nana’s.
I battled rush-hour traffic to work and hit the ground running. I had a list of patients to see, one of whom was to be discharged to a physical rehab, so I had to have discharge orders in for her by mid-morning. The previous doc had teed it up pretty well, but there were loose ends, such as decisions to be made on certain medications. I also would staff the “urgent” Friday afternoon clinic, so I had to be able to start seeing patients by early afternoon.The schedule wasn’t completely full, but it was me who would see any last-minute calls or walk-ins. I kept checking the schedule to see who was being added on.
And then Friday afternoon is when all the narcotics requests come in. Patients on chronic narcotics always seem to “run out” or have some problem with their prescription on Fridays when their doc is away, and the on-call doc has to deal with it. Narcotics prescribing is so distasteful to me. I suspect everyone of abusing and/or diverting narcotics, because, let’s face it, they usually are. We are in an epidemic right now. I already saw one request in the clinical messages, something about “so-and-so seeking refill on Oxycodone 30 mg po tid #180 tablets. Previous prescription rejected by insurance due to prescribing discrepancy and he needs a new one filled out. PCP is away, can you do?”.
This is the kind of situation that can make me crazy. I get so stressed when I start to think about all that I have to do and how important it is to get it right, or how little I want to deal with it. That makes me susceptible to reacting badly to difficult patients or colleagues, and that makes me hate my job.
I knew I needed to get grounded somehow, to ward off the rising panic.
So, I started off this crazy dreaded call week by doing something I have never done before. On my way up to the floors to see our inpatients, I swerved off-course and found myself outside the doors to the chapel. I have never once even approached the chapel at the hospital. We belong to a church, and we love it. I’m fairly spiritual. But it’s never occurred to me to check out the chapel.
It’s a proper chapel, with dark mahogony wood carvings and beautiful old paintings and stained glass windows. It smells faintly of musky Febreeze. There’s no pews, but rather chairs. There was a lady in there at the altar, kneeling. I sat in the back and bowed my head, and waited for some inspiration to hit me. I’m not a big praying person.
But what hit me was this: “Please God, let me face whatever comes this week with equanamity”.
Equanamity. I never use that word. Until I looked it up right now, I wasn’t 100% certain it meant what I thought it meant. I figured God might need some synonyms on that, so I added: “Let me be calm and collected. Let me not freak out. Thanks.”
And so the week began. Friday actually went very well. I got it done. I dealt with the narcs. Then the weekend was nuts. Alot of pages and admissions, plus a streak of late-late night pages and some high, high-maintenance patients and families.
Amazingly, all weekend I dealt fairly well. No panic attacks. Between Nana, my neighbor with the bad back, and me, we managed the kids on their schedules.
But Monday, the equanamity prayer started to wear off. I figured it would, and I planned to get back to the chapel to ask for just “a few more days of peace, please, God. Hubby’s not back until Wednesday.” But I didn’t get there. And for some reason, prayers that happen outside of a place of worship seem invalid, like if you sent a stamped envelope through the laundry chute instead of the mailbox. So, until I get back to the chapel, I’m not going to bother asking for anything.
My clinical responses have started to get snippier. “Can you see this add-on to the schedule?” wrote the poor secretary. “NO ADD ONS” I banged into the keyboard.
Of course, it’s probably also cumulative lack of sleep… I’ve had a streak of 2 a.m. pages for admissions, with Babygirl up at 3 or 4 for her bottle…
But I’ll get to the chapel tomorrow, just in case it helps.