Lessons learned...

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Today, I feel somewhat enlightened.  I have spent the last couple of weeks a bit depressed.  Well, more than a bit, hence the 'break'.  And now that I have decided to chuck my past and start over, I was a little afraid to go back to work.  It's not that I don't like my job, on the contrary, I kind of love my job.  Without going into too much detail, I have a job in cancer research based in the operating department which requires me to be highly skilled and educated and allows me to hang out in the surgeon's coffee room where all of the expensive chocolates are hidden.

So, yeah, I love my job.  And I'm damn good at it.  The first thing you are wondering is probably why I'm giving it up.  That's easy.  In about 2-5 years, I will finally be able to move home to the US and the job I do now isn't really transferable.  I'll need a new career and since my registrations from before I left have long since expired, I'll need to start over.  That's why I'm taking the chance and starting over in a new field. 

Now, you're probably wondering why I was afraid to go back to the operating theatre today.  That's not quite as simple.  Each day I stand in theatre and watch as surgeons, who I have lunch with and gossip with, perform these amazing procedures and save lives.  And each day I think, 'God I can't wait until I'm a surgeon.'  Yeah, that was the direction I was going in (and had been for nearly 20 years).  I stand there knowing that I can do it.  I'm smart enough.  Part of my job requires me to cut, so I'm excellent with a scalpel.  I'm even already a part of the surgical team and quite respected as such.  Being away from theatre for two weeks gave me time to forget how much I enjoyed it and gave me time to fantasize about a different life.  I was afraid that when I went back today I'd realise I had made a huge mistake deciding to leave medicine.

But the strangest thing happened as I stood there watching a Whipples Procedure for pancreatic cancer.  I didn't feel anything.  All I could think about was how I was going to expand my current short story into a novel.  Weird.  Unfortunately, this didn't make me feel better.  It made me feel worse.  Had I wasted 20 years chasing a dream that was never the right one for me? 

When I walked into my second surgery of the day, a liver resection this time, I was quickly assured that I hadn't wasted my time.  Beaming across the room from me was an anesthetist who was one of my first real friends when I started.  Thanks to the holidays, I hadn't seen him in weeks and as soon as I got within arms reach of him he grabbed me and gave me the biggest hug.  The people that I spend my working days with are fascinating and every single one of them has made my life richer in some way.  Over the last 20 years there have been quite a few.  The first lesson I learned today was that time spent making friends is never wasted. 

The second lesson I have learned today is one I should've known already.  Several people commented today that they hadn't seen me in weeks, but they just figured I was busy.  A couple asked about my son, school, etc.  Everyone always tells me they don't know how I do everything I do.  I always laugh and say I don't sleep.  Truth is I do sleep, I just don't do many things that I want to do.  I barely knit or crochet or spin these days.  Most of the time I can't even find time for a bubble bath.  In the coffee room, a twenty-eight year old surgeon who I work closely with started to tease me.  It's what we do, harass each other.  I told him I had decided to take on less, slow down a bit.  He alluded to my growing older.  Then he came right out and called me old.  I called him a jackass.  I'll miss him so much when he finishes his fellowship and goes back to Italy.   The second lesson I learned today I really should know since I remind my three year old, who has become quite mischievous in the last few months, of it daily.  Just because you CAN do something, doesn't mean you SHOULD or that you HAVE to.

I managed to sneak out of the hospital early today and I've come home to write a little before I have to pick the monster up from preschool.  That's where I learned my third and hopefully last lesson of the day (my brain can only take so much in 24 hours).  Battery-operated pencil sharpeners are crap.  Oh well...


  1. I like this post. So many times we force ourselves into a mold we aren't really supposed to be in. I totally hear you on wanting to move on to something that seems to be more of who you are. Like you said, just because you can doesn't mean you should. Good luck!

    ♥ Mary Mary

  2. No No No No....You have not wasted one moment. You have been aquiring the tools you need.

    Every life you have touched is important...even if you don't know it yet.

    People get old at diffrent times. They get old at the time they are supposed to. My daughter wants to be a doctor, but she's already old at 16.
    I am older than rocks, but not in the way she is.

    I have written since I was younger than she is now....but all of it had value even if it is not of value to the world.

    You should count the gift of knowing surgical proceedures as highly as I do the fact I drove a semi truck and can tell you the way the air smells and the color of the light in practically every city in the USA. Knowing the diffrence between Dallas and Denver may sound easy...but I know the flavor.

    Hearing the characters for the first time is one of those things purring to you to keep going..."follow me", it says.....Listen to it.

    If your manuscript, that you have invested all this energy into, is not speaking to you...listen. You have permission to return to it someday...

    You are not betraying them...if they have stopped speaking to you...maybe they found a new typer. Talk to the ones speaking to you now.

    Don't obsess over writing more than you write...please you, and the rest will happen when and if it was meant. If you enjoy it...who cares if anyone else ever claps.

    That is the freedom to write without fear. Have Fun....even if some of the fun is work!

  3. Thank you, Mary Mary.

    You are so right about that mold. I've had a few more 'epiphanies' this week and I can finally see why the mold I'm in isn't the right one. I'm working on an escape plan now :)

    And HowLynnTime, thanks for your words of encouragement as well.

    I believe that the experience I have gained over many years and many jobs will come in handy at some point. I have toyed with the idea of writing medical romance, but right now I am too burnt out by medicine in general.

    I think I started writing probably as soon as I could write, but I decided to go into medicine while I was still very young (like 5, long story).

    My biggest struggle is with ADHD which won't let me sit still on one MS long enough, but I am working on that. I am also a very 'girly girl' and have found a way to bribe myself into completing a MS with shiny things (I'll post about it soon).

    As to the characters who have stopped talking, they haven't stopped as much as slacked off a bit to make room for new ones (the ADHD again). I'll get back to them in due time. :)


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