Friday, July 9, 2010

The Ways We Spend Our Days

When Curtis got home from work last night he asked me, as he always does, "What did you do today?" This is a question that I have, at times, been very dismayed to answer. "Well," I think to myself, "I did laundry" or "I mowed the lawn" or "I biked twenty miles across town and back to visit my sister while she was working at the coffee shop." And when I tell that to him, my husband who works 85 hours a week dealing with health care that shapes people's very being, it seems a bit trivial.

Thankfully, his response is usually something to the effect of "That's great!" followed by specific questions about how my day played out. He is very supportive of this unemployed, restful stage in my life. And after I tell him about the books I perused at the used book store, or the way that I conquered a resistant lawn mower while shuttling my brother around to his mowing jobs, or the wind tunnel that I rode through on my way home, I ask him about his day.

His eyes light up as he tells me about a 91-year-old woman that he's been treating for the last six days. He breaks down the different ways that her heart problems lead to breathing problems, and why she would rather take asprin than coumadin, and how her daughter waited an hour and a half for him to stop by in the afternoon, because she loves to talk to him about her mother's condition.

And then he tells me about the middle aged man who came in with stomach problems this past weekend only to find out that he has a large tumor that will probably end his life. He tells me about how the man broke down yesterday because he feels so in the dark about his condition, and that Curtis ended up sitting and listening to this man for forty-five minutes, discussing his condition--because that's what he needed more than anything.

"The biggest challenge I find," Curtis told me while we shared a bowl of anniversary ice cream, "is knowing how to connect with each patient. Some of them want to know all the details of their condition, and just want someone to be honest with them about just how bad it is. Others want little to do with making decisions; they just want to be taken care of by the doctors and nurses, left to rest."

And as we ate our blueberry ice cream, we mused about the role reversal that has taken place. He has spent the last six months wrapping up his medical school education, with few responsibilities and lots of free time, and I have spent the last six months carrying a heavy load that often felt quite chaotic.

I am glad that I have time to rest, as difficult as it is at times to be unproductive. I am even more glad that Curtis's twenty-one years of education have brought him to a place of such purpose and fulfillment. When the guy who has worked the last twelve days in a row bemoans that he will miss the progress of his patients over a hard earned weekend off, you know he loves what he does.


  1. I've decided that Curtis is going to be my new doctor. I will need to now work on building up the frequent flyer miles.

    This post was touching however I will be trite and admit that what touched me most was the mention of BLUEBERRY ICE CREAM.

    I need some of that NOW. PRONTO. Ugh - this husband imposed bed rest is driving me out of my freakin' mind. I did cheat this morning - my car was parked in a Friday tow zone so I had to go move it (Matt can't drive stick) and after I did, I walked 4 blocks to the coffee shop and bought a chocolate croissant... and a cranberry scone.

    But now I need ice cream!


  2. God bless Curtis. But don't sell yourself short. You both add value to the world...and to yourselves.