Getting Clobbered

September 9, 2016

There is satisfaction in working hard.

As of this writing, I’m in the midst of receiving a good clobbering. In contradistinction to my usual 7-days-on, 7-off schedule, I’ve just completed day 6 of a 10-day work “week.” The irony, in that this happened because of Labor Day, is not lost on me.

I should clarify that I did have opportunity to avoid this clobbering; with sufficient advance notice, vRad’s folks in Scheduling can move metaphorical mountains. I could, for instance, have nibbled a couple of days off of the gauntlet I’m currently running, and instead made two of my 26 “off” weeks into 6-day affairs.

Why I didn’t (twice, since I’m doing this again as of the day after Thanksgiving) is perhaps something I should address in psychotherapy. The simple answer might be that I prefer to keep the number of my shortened off-weeks to a minimum. I sense a deeper truth, though: On some level, I like receiving an occasional clobbering. Further, I suspect an awful lot of us who chose health care do, too.

It’s not that, in the midst of working an insane stretch of stressful hours or taking on an absurd workload, many of us are liable to sit back with a foolish grin and sincerely think, “Gosh, I love this.” Although we might come close when it sinks in just how Herculean a labor we are accomplishing, and we mentally pat ourselves on the back for doing something nobody else could…conveniently forgetting the legions of our fellow interns who were, nightly, admitting ludicrous numbers of patients alongside us.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"51761","attributes":{"alt":"Radiology workload","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_5914145683007","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"6401","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"height: 170px; width: 170px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;","title":"©rafyrane/Shutterstock.com","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

There’s a certain sense of being deep in the trenches, fully applying oneself, and to shamelessly steal a phrase, being all you can be. There’s a job to do, no matter how big it is, and you’re taking it on. Maybe others around you are wowed, or would be if they were aware of your doings. Or maybe you’re your own appreciative audience, imagine how your younger, less-experienced self might regard your prowess and industry.

Another aspect comes to mind: An attitude towards the besetting circumstances of “Is that all you got?” I can handle this, no problem. Was this supposed to be some sort of a challenge? I’m barely working up a sweat, here. This might be simple chest thumping bravado, but on some level it’s a satisfying personal discovery: Hey, I’m handling this. Come to think of it, it’s not even all that bad. I could take even more…it might not be pleasant, but if and when something even tougher comes along, I’ll probably be able to handle that, too.

All that said, when I turn off my workstation this Sunday evening, my celebratory “finishing-line” martini and the subsequent morning of sleeping in are going to be that much sweeter as result of the extra 30 hours of work that I put in to reach them, this time around. I wonder which of them I’m going to enjoy more.