I call my blog The Grieving Doctor Mom but I haven’t spent much time talking about the doctor side of my life.
The life of a doctor. More specifically – a pediatrician. First off – if you need quiet at your workplace – then you don’t become a pediatrician.
Sometimes my office is a chaotic scream factory. We give a lot of shots.
Even if the visit has no shots planned some patients just don’t want to be there. (pretty much all 15 and 18 month olds)
Doctor= The master to compartmentalize
To compartmentalize: separate something into parts and not allow those parts to mix together
Doctors are AWESOME at this. And we have to be. It starts in medical school and is especially used during residency. To succeed you cannot mix emotion with your work. You must be mentally sharp, not clouded by your feelings. A mild example: I talk to a mom of a teenager with a diagnosis of depression and anxiety, inpatient psychiatric care, school failure and drug use, recommend care and state a plan, give mom reassurance that her child will be ok, comfort mom as she cries and says it is all so hard (in 15 min ) then regroup and enter the next room to a rowdy 2 year old wellness exam with a tired mom with three crazy healthy siblings bored from waiting for you.
I have survived so far with this skill. During residency no one cared if you had problems at home. Well, your colleagues cared but the work still had to get done, so you had to leave it at home.
Four years of med school and three years of residency where you left your problems at home and did your work. My art of compartmentalizing is automatic now. 22 years of practice, every day. Remember my house of grief? It does not connect with my work life. And I really don’t want to. I am focused on other people’s problems. Their world. Their concerns. I am the problem solver. The conduit to healing and guide to finding the answers.
So I have many hours of my week where I am focused on my life as a doctor. I am proud I can still practice pediatrics. I can focus and do my life’s work. I still want to help people. Even more now.
My compassion has increased by my loss.
The hard part is my time away from my work. I have to put my work worries and thoughts aside and be the grieving mom. Not doctor. The transition can sometimes be easy and other times it slams me in the face.
My grief is like a garden. I have to visit it in brief but frequent trips, weeding the garden as it calls for every few days. If I spend too much time away the garden is taken over by overgrowth, weeds, bugs and what not. I then spend my time lamenting that I have this garden. It can overwhelm me to care for it and put it back to the condition I want and can tolerate.
Finally – when Nolan died I did not keep secret the cause of his death. But now I wonder if the parents and older patients of my practice, the ones that know about my loss, if they think differently of me.
I wonder if they think I failed him.
I know we did all we could for Nolan. He took his life. He made his choice. We helped him connect with psychiatric help and a therapist he really could talk to. (which is amazing for a 19-year-old shy depressed anxious young man to do) I don’t know what happened in his last days or hours of life to make him end his pain.
But I was his mom and a doctor. Why couldn’t I save him?
I don’t worry if people think I could have stopped Nolan from taking his life. They don’t know the details.
But I do hope they see the doctor that is standing before them now is very grateful to still do her life’s work and serve God’s children in compassionate care.
15 thoughts on “Dr. Gold”
Lisa, so many true jewels of learning about the earthly job of being human. I hope you come to learn that your truth is meant to help others as they encounter similar situations. Love, angela
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This is an amazing blog post, immediately when you first lost Nolan I thought your transparency was your strength ! I understand at times grieving parent will have waves of ” man where did I go wrong ?” It’s a devasting thought but I also have understanding that different emotions surface with suicide (that I can’t relate to) but we were both great Moms and it was never in our hands..i think that’s where we then say God I trust you and I know you hold my boy and I’m so thankful for Heaven. I remember reading you said you knew Nolan went to heaven !!!! ( I hope I’m encouraging, I would never want to speak in error ) I’m a grieving parent but always still have a fear of saying the wrong thing, that’s wierd isn’t it ?
Sheila – you are right. I do know that Nolan is in heaven. And your Danny is too. You know in our “club” we speak to each other yet there is already an understanding, a grief bond, that our hearts connect and we understand each other. Guilt is a hard part of grief isn’t it? I do way more guilt time then anger time. But I have no fear that Nolan is not at peace. Our boys are with Jesus. Danny is running and Nolan is cracking jokes. Love to you.
Amen !! So we said 🙂
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Oops ..so Well said !!
This is so beautifully stated and Lisa… And so movingly impressive! 🤗
Thank you Wiki.
Thank you for all you do … I know it is much easier being at work when one is grieving … going home is when it’s tough … I have lost two husbands so I know … grief softens in time but never really goes away but the memories can be very sweet
I love reading your blog…I didn’t lose a child. I lost a husband…which is a total different lose. I admire you tremendously, being able to still do your life’s calling and still helping people is awesome. When you lose someone I think we all wonder what did I do wrong…what could I have done differently. Then we have to remember we are human..only God knows these answers. Praying that everyone suffering from a lose finds peace one day !
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Lisa – you definitely have a very tough job! Separating your feelings is a skill that many people cannot do (including me). Big kudos to you for being able to accomplish that! I’m sure ministers do the same thing when they deal with birth, marriage, divorce, death and everything else. It takes a special skill for sure! I don’t think your co-workers or patients or anybody thinks differently of you for why happened to Nolan. We all know we can’t control why happens no matter how much we know or do. Congrats to you for being able to separate your brain! God’s Blessings to you!
Thank you for reading my blog. yes – I would think other professions have to compartmentalize. In fact now that you mention ministers and people of faith – I think they have a harder job in their need to separate. Another reason I greatly respect people who commit their lives to faith and religion.
You are an awesome doctor, Dr. Gold!! I definitely don’t think of you differently now that I know about Nolan. I don’t think that you failed him and shame on anyone who might think so. I know you said you’re great at compartmentalizing, but some of us don’t mind when you mix your home life with your business life. We care about you just like you care about our kids! You’re human…you have emotions and we understand that. We’re here to support you & encourage you, so please don’t be afraid to let us help you too! 🙂
Thank you Aimee. I appreciate your card too. I have some days I can talk about Nolan at work and smile and others where it just makes me cry and break down. And I hate when I cry at work.
You are an amazing Doctor and our family has never once even thought about your parenting as any part of failure. You do such an amazing job giving your everything to your patients. You have good judgement and skills that you use tirelessly. I can only imagine that your great qualities are only magnified when it comes to your own children and family. Anyone who understands mental illness, knows how difficult and hard it is for the family members, not just the one who suffers. My husband suffered many years as a teen with mental illness and learning and hearing how he felt during those times are very eye opening and saddening all at once. Keep doing what you are doing….stay strong and keep looking ahead!! You are nothing short of AMAZING!
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Thank you for your kind and encouraging words. I enjoy taking care of your kids. It is hard to be a parent, or spouse or sibling or a friend to someone with mental illness. I would sit and try and understand what Nolan was feeling. He tried, but had a hard time describing how he felt and thought.