With it being so long since I have written for this blog, I thought that instead of writing a piece on a random topic, I ought to tell you about the latest in my recovery process.
In December of 2015, I returned to residency for 3 months to complete my second year of Family Practice medical training allowing me to obtain a Michigan Medical License. After a prolonged battle with our Human Resources, I was allowed to return to residency to complete my second year. After this, I obtained my Michigan medical license. I then shifted my focus onto finding work. I interviewed at numerous positions, where unfortunately, I was told that these jobs ‘were not looking to hire right now’. I contemplated the possibility of opening my own practice, however was discouraged from this by every physician with whom I spoke, “it’s a money pit,” they would say, or simply “it’s really tough to open your own practice. Have you looked into being affiliated with a hospital system?” At this point, I am not sure of the possibility of clinical work in my future. This does not mean that I will not be involved in medicine in my future, but the chance of me working in a clinic, going from room to room, seeing patients is not a strong possibility. I am, however, still considering administrative medical work such as reviewing charts, going over claims, or medical consulting.
Thankfully, veiled in this rejection is the opportunity to spend more time with my family. Before the surgery, I saw my wife and son sparingly. I would spend nights at the hospital and only come home to sleep. I would miss events like sports games or school conferences. I now attend every sports game and school event and am even able to drop and pick up my children from school. I also have dinner ready every day when my wife returns home from work, and have been able to enjoy cooking, another previous interest of mine.
This ordeal has also allowed me to focus on writing; perhaps I had little or no time to write prior to my surgery, or maybe my love of writing was born after my ordeal, but I have been fortunate enough to have two of my pieces printed in the American Family Physician journal and the International Brain Tumour Association journal. (AFP: http://www.aafp.org/afp/2016/0601/p911.html, IBTA: (page 58) https://issuu.com/ibta-org/docs/ibta_2017). Writing provides me with some catharsis. I hope my writing also imparts on you similar sentiments.
Physically, I continue to improve, however my attitude and approach to my recovery has changed. I have discontinued Physical Therapy, however spend much of my time in the gym doing balance exercises. Many loved ones around me have asked me if I have ‘given up’ on the possibility of further recovery. My response is this:
While yes, the optics of my rehabilitation have vastly changed, I continue to fight, albeit in a different way. In the recent past, I participated in Physical, Speech, and Occupational Therapy. I now have stopped these sessions, as I had to ask myself, ‘is Therapy worth it? Is it worth my time and sweat (over 15 hours each week) for the possibility of return?’ The Economist in me is shining through when I question the futility of pursuing an object with uncertain returns. But this does not mean I have ‘given up’; as I mentioned above, I continue to strive to work to beat this, but not blindly working, working smarter. The saying ‘practice makes perfect’ is often preached to anyone pursuing an endeavor. Allow me to take this a step further: it is not practice that makes perfect, but perfect practice that makes perfect. For example, I could spend 100 hours a week on my golf swing, but will I be a better player if I practiced all these hours with poor technique on my swing? Of course, the answer is no, in fact one could argue that I could emerge a worse player. Now, imagine that I instead spent that time practicing with a picture perfect swing. I would undoubtedly end up a good (if not great) golfer. My hope is that with my recovery, I am practicing now with ‘perfect technique’; in the sweet spot that will make my recovery optimal. While I have stopped the official Therapy sessions, I continue to devote much of my time performing the exercises I learned during my time with them. In addition to these physical strengthening exercises, I also work on keeping my mind sharp by reading and writing often. While the appearance of my recovery may seem slowed, I continue to work hard. Unfortunately, only time will tell if I am truly practicing ‘smarter’, as there is no precedent to my condition.
I am by no means saying the Therapy is an inviable means of rehabilitation. On the contrary, this experience has shown me the importance of therapy; I used to write many prescriptions that read, “Physical Therapy 3 times per week,” and while those were not completely empty recommendations, I now fully realize (after having gone through therapy myself) how important therapy is in a wide range of diseases and afflictions. My only point is that for me, at this stage, no one knows if going through Therapy will aid my recovery. My thinking is that the way I recover now is the best way I can pursue rehabilitation, at this stage.
We often look for hidden lessons in our experiences; my first hope with this piece is to provide you with information of my recovery. But the idea that perfect practice makes perfect is an important one. Anyone can practice, but to practice perfectly is the only true metric to obtain excellence.