Doctors are human and face all the same illnesses, injuries, and disasters that everyone else does.
Editor’s Note: Physicians Practice’s blog features contributions from members of the medical community. These blogs are an opportunity for professionals to engage with readers about a topic that is top of mind, whether it is practice management, experiences with patients, the industry, medicine in general, or healthcare reform. The opinions are that of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Physicians Practice or UBM.
Patients often express that doctors don’t seem to understand their pain and what they are going through. But, doctors are human, and we face all the same illnesses, injuries, and disasters that everyone else does. It is often harder for us because we know we have so many sick patients depending on us to be functioning. Most doctors work even when sick. Yet, there are times when we truly can no longer function and need to take a period of disability.
I’ve always been one of those doctors who worked with the flu or returned to work the day after knee surgery, still in pain. I never thought I would be unable to work for any reason. Yet, I went from a practicing physician with an over-full practice to temporary disabled in a matter of seconds. Taking my dog for a walk, she took off after a squirrel, dragging me to the point that I fell and fractured my shoulder. I ended up hospitalized for three days with intractable pain and vomiting (caused by the pain medications) and underwent surgery to help the broken bone fragments heal. I now sport a steel plate and ten screws in my proximal humerus. With my fracture, I was immobile for four weeks. In fact, I couldn’t even make it upstairs to my bed and spent it on the couch.
I learned many lessons on my journey into temporary disability:
Being struck with a sudden illness or injury is quite devastating. While I know it will only last a few months, those few months are quite grievous. When others are struck down, we need to remember how hard the struggle is and support them, especially our colleagues in medicine who trained to always be there in health and in sickness.