As you know, I’m back in the saddle at work, according to the terms of my phased retirement contract. When I’m off service, I feel less pressured. However, when I’m on service, I’m like a fireman, thriving on pressure. I’ve done Consultation-Liaison (C-L) Psychiatry for so many years that, when I stop to think about it, I realize I get a good deal of my sense of meaning and purpose through my job.
I sometimes tell residents and medical students that I “do it for the juice.” That means I work for the adrenaline: rushing to emergencies, making quick decisions (some of them far from perfect), teaching on the run, telling funny stories about how my work as evolved over the years.
When I spent less time on the job during the first two years of phased retirement, I felt lost. There’s no better word for it. That’s not as much of a challenge now, but meaning and purpose in retirement can be difficult for a fireman to define.
I had a blog called The Practical C-L Psychiatrist until I dropped it last year. There were a couple of reasons. One of them was the expectation that bloggers write their own Privacy Policies in response to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) going into effect. I rebelled against it.
The other reason I dropped The Practical C-L Psychiatrist was that it was less relevant to my stage of life in that I’m not racing all over the hospital nearly as much nowadays. I don’t have as much to write about that life anymore.
I’ve done a lot of fun things on the job over the years. I used to have mascots for the C-L service, like the one below. You can tell that it was from some time ago. The mascots were usually inflatable animals I bought from the hospital gift shop. The residents, medical students and I gave them silly names. The trouble was that the mascots, being balloons, were always running out of gas.
And that meant that somebody had to take the mascot for a walk all the way across the hospital back to the gift shop to get a healing shot of helium—and walk all the way back. The volunteers there got a big kick out of an old geezer doctor walking the mascot. It was an exercise in humility, which I admit I often needed.
And I took group pictures of trainees and me at the end of rotations by using an app on my old iPad. It’s called CamMe. The way it worked was that I set the iPad up on a stack of books or something; then we all stood for the shot. I would hold up my hand and make a fist to start a 3-2-1 countdown, which gave you just enough time to make a big smile for the automatic group selfies. Everybody got a kick out of it.
I was so proud of those pictures I thought nothing of posting them on my blog, with nary a thought about their privacy. All of them thought they were fun.
That’s about enough on meaning and purpose for today.