Every summer my heart is heavy with memories of a time when I even came close to leaving #medicine-when career & motherhood collided and I didn’t ask for help.

I want to share that story in case it helps even 1 person.(Thread) #medtwitter #meded #womeninmedicine #TipsForNewDocs
I share this now because July is full of #tipsfornewdocs but August comes & we all get swallowed up in the hustle & bustle of heavy clinical loads- when orientation ends and the real work begins.
I had just finished #pediatric residency and started #anesthesia residency with a 6 month old baby. Orientation was over & we were deployed to do our first cases in the OR without an attending always in the room with us.
It was a whole new world, #anesthesia.The learning curve was STEEP for a newly minted #pediatrician.Surgeons staring you down because I.V./art line taking too long.Feeling like you’re never turning room over fast enough. Climbing under drapes to empty foleys, troubleshoot bp cuff
On my first official day without constant in-room supervision, I was in a room with 6 short cases. I was nervous about my inefficiency so I showed up at 4 am to set up the room and draw up all my meds.
Drawing up drugs quickly, correctly & without splattering everywhere takes practice. Running out of time, I rushed to crack open top of a glass fentanyl vial.

It broke off jaggedly, & I cut my finger. Small cut. Couldn’t find a bandaid. It was 7:20-10 min left till room start!
On time starts are good. Wash hands quickly. Go see 1st patient.
Middle of the day. I’m doing ok. A couple tough I.V. starts and one missed intubation. Haven’t asked for a break to pump but that’s ok- work comes 1st...
Induction for next patient goes smoothly & I take my gloves off to put clean ones on.

Look over & realize I had set the stopcock up incorrectly- my great IV =blood backflowing onto the floor.
First thought: “I’m making a mess, need to fix this ASAP.”

I instinctively reach out to grab I.V. - forget I don’t have gloves on.

Blood is now in my cut from the morning.

Patient is HIV+.
No sinks in the OR, only Purell. Can’t leave patient unattended. Wait until my attending finishes inducing next door to wash my hands. Am told to go to occ health immediately.
Begin 1 month course of ppx Combivir that afternoon.

Told I cannot breastfeed.

Go home to baby who doesn’t know what hit him. Won’t take a bottle from me.

...wish I had enjoyed that last 3 am feed more.

...need to preop with my attending for next day.

Life goes on.
But it doesn’t, really.

Never tell anyone except my husband I’m scared- even w/him, I underplay.

Oh, & still have to ask for pump breaks to relieve the pain.

p.s. Stopping breastfeeding cold turkey is ill-advised.Cabbage leaves 🥬 (google it) don’t smell so good under scrubs
Every day I go through the motions.

I smile when I should. I take good care of patients.

I’m strong after all.

2 weeks later I have a high fever. Convinced I’m seroconverting. That’s what internet says.

Still I talk to no one. There is despair, anger. But more despair.
6 months go by in a fog waiting for definitive testing. I wonder what it is all for. I spend all my free time, baby in arms, reading about my chances. I’m lost. But I talk to no one. This isn’t that big a deal right?

I made a mistake too many of us in #Medicine do. I should have talked. A lot. I spent over 6 months of life wondering if I should leave medicine. Wondering if I had ruined my life.

Were my fears rational? Likely not.

But they were MY FEARS. And I should have asked for help.
I put my job ahead of my mental health. And I almost got completely lost.

Luckily, I was surrounded by colleagues, family & friends who may not have known the depth of it, but unknowingly lifted me-my team.

Time and team healed- but may not have.
So I will end with this.

Talk about it. There is always someone to listen & help. You’re never too strong for help.

Don’t ever put work before your mental health.

If it’s impacting you, it’s not irrational- it’s real. It’s your life.
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