I tripped, almost fell and ended up in the Emergency Room. This reminded me that stress has everything to do with it. What is stress? Dr. Andrew Weil offered this definition “Psychological stress can best be defined as emotional strain or tension in response to a particular event, behavior, place or person.”
Stress has always been my undoing. I felt it most during my 6 years of practice on the Eastern Shore. The bigger the practice became the more apparent it became to me that I was being stressed. I never complain; I just work. The beginning of my second year in practice, I was offered the office of a doctor who was leaving practice to retire to his sailboat. I decided to invite the doctor I was practicing with to join me in the venture. This was against the advice of my husband. I felt sorry for him. That was my first mistake that lead to an increase in stress. I enjoyed the patients and I found refuge in seeing 30/day.
My first reaction to stress was a severe sinus infection. It came at the worst time. With two practices to manage and being on call with no back-up, I just did it. I took my antibiotics and ibuprofen. Thankfully, I did not have to be admitted to the hospital for sinus drainage. I had to go inside myself and just relax and meditate. I know it was all due to stress. As I relaxed my sinuses opened and I was better.
The next time I reacted to stress was an angry outburst with my partner. It ended with our business manager saying we were both right. I yelled “No, I am the only one who is right.” We had just renovated our office after acquiring the office of a retiring physician. We knocked out the walls and expanded our office and exam rooms. As per the Dalai Lama “The energy of anger should be suspect to caution. It can inspire behavior that is terribly destructive and unfortunate.”
My stress, I realize now was never from caring for the patients. It was from the business of Medicine. Dealing with the hospital, my colleagues and yes my partner. To manage all of this, I exercised. I had morning walks with my neighbor who was a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). We shared patients and were friends. I cared for her family. This was possibly my bartered therapy sessions. I had the privilege of caring for her beloved husband during his heart attack and subsequent stroke. He did well.
I left that practice and lost a lot financially but found my calm. I still deal with stress through exercise but now yoga and meditation are the keys to my ability to find balance. I have been practicing yoga for 11 years. Yoga helped me rehabilitate a shoulder and a back injury after a fall. That too was related to stress. I was dealing with commuting to Brooklyn and working for yet another stress producing colleague.
This fall and a now diagnosed quadriceps (thigh muscle) strain is the result of thinking about a meeting, grabbing my purse and tote and mindlessly running down the stairs to get to work early. However, I ended up in the ER. I saw a colleague who is a Sports Medicine Specialist. He performed an Ultrasound right in the examination room. He recommended Physical Therapy and yes Yoga. The stress of trying to multitask and dealing with the business part of medicine was a distraction. I want to say that I do love the business part. I am a clever and persistent so I manage to always get the best for my patients and my staff. Thankfully, still enjoy he patients. I have mastered the business part. I have learned never to resort to the wasted energy of anger. So I have spent the past day and a half meditating and reconnecting with my inner calm and finding my balance.