Thursday, September 5, 2013


I don't think of myself as much of a risk taker. The biggest risks for me were getting married and having children. I remember me at 8 1/2 months pregnant thinking I'd rather not go through with it, knowing it was too late, knowing how ridiculous I was being. At the same time being sure that plenty of women before me had wanted to turn back too. It just seemed like too much risk, to love yet another person, too too much.

I was not sure how to turn myself into the type of mother who lives in a Pottery Barn catalog. The catalogs kept coming, Pottery Barn and Pottery Barn Kids. Crate and Barrel too. After awhile I stopped looking, heaving them to the recycle bin without so much as turning back the cover. The catalogs were full of safety and certainty and served only to remind me of the risks I was taking with these people who were becoming my family.

Last week thinking about all the changes going on at work and thinking about Girl number three, I thought to myself " I can't do this anymore."

Girl Number three is dying, the third in a series of young women that I have Case Managed. Although it doesn't feel like case management. It feels like my title should be Suicide Witness. All the tools of health laid out before them: pill boxes, free medications that work, check lists, encouraging phone calls, physicians, social workers, pharmacists, and psychologists and nurse.Yet they still march smartly toward death.

A text arrived on my phone from V, the other lucky case manager in my clinic. V manages the adults. I manage the children. If they are closing in on death I won't let them transfer from the pediatric to the adult side of the clinic even if they are 20 years old. I just think it's best to stick by them. The text from V is a job description. She knows I've got to get out. V calls my desk phone to see if I have filled out the online application. I edit my resume and have V and Dr. Ann look it over. Application submitted. Two days later a call comes to set up an interview. Wednesday morning I spent two and a half hours meeting with the folks at my prospective employer. There are windows. The staff bathrooms are clean. The commute is a little shorter. The patients aren't terminal. They are simply allergic. It feels like where I am supposed to be. I'm thinking about what to wear if I get a second interview when my phone rings. It's the offer, sooner than I expected and $5 more per hour than my current salary. I am happy, sad, exhausted, elated. I'm getting out. I am leaving people I love behind. I am choosing a job with potential, that will be infinitely better for me and the kiddos. I worry too about Melanoma Man and how long he can keep up the after school activities, homework, dinner prep. Whether this is a risk I should be taking at this time. V sends another text to me on interview day reminding me that there is no right time. So I stop waiting for all the planets to align just right and I accept the job.

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