When we moved to Brampton I needed to find a family doctor---at 37--not married--two weeks into a new job in a different city--sleeping on an air mattress on the floor while my partner and son were wrapping things up in our London condo where they were still living---I found myself pregant.
I went online and found a website that provided the names of doctors in various parts of Ontario who were accepting patients. Of the few names listed I was immediately attracted to one. Dr. Patricia Francis--a woman --who had studied in Ireland. This to me was a sign. I am of Irish background and if you know Brampton at all you will know that finding her seems like a bit of the luck o' the Irish.
I was escorted into a room where a lovely coffee skinned, well dressed woman with a gorgeous South African accent I couldn't place asked the reason for my visit. I told her I needed to speak to the doctor about a bit of a crisis. Her eyes popped open as she sat down putting one hand on my knee, "My dear, I AM the doctor. Now let's talk about this "crisis".
My psychiatrist told me early into my hospital stay--that when the patient is ready--the doctor appears.
My family doctor has been my compass during the past nine years that I have lived here. She helped me make good decisions about my pregnancy and has cared for both my children and my spouse. She has squeezed me in when my asthma has been out of control (You tell them at the front you MUST come back in 2 days and I don't care, they just have to fit you in) and she has spent time with me in her office just talking, when my dad died, or when my stress level was affecting my family, work and self. She is passionate about what she does --and believes it should be done "right" so much so that she left a clinic she worked at to start one of her own with her husband (also a doctor). And she is passionate about how she lives. Over the years we have discussed her twins --studying medicine in Ireland and how she simply must fly over to see them at least once a month or she goes crazy.
This time--when things started to fall apart--my asthmas uncontrolled, nerve pain in my back and legs, bed ridden and yet still trying to manage my department via e-mail. She had to work really hard to get through to me:
"I need you to look at me. Look at me! You are not well. Your body is shutting down and causing all these problems and I am particularly worried about your mental state. This is not good. I know you do not want to go to hospital but I am telling you ---look at me----that if things are not better in the morning you MUST go to hospital. They will be able to treat you there. I need you to look at me and repeat what I just said."
I did. And I went. And they must have seen in me what she did because they kept me for awhile. I was amazed that people actually took this seriously. That it was not just something I had to "suck up"--that it was real---that it was worth a trip to the hospital and I guess ultimately, I was worth a trip to the hospital. It was, and still is, a revelation to me that I was worth that much attention.
As a mom, you work quietly in the background and most of what you do is not recognized openly because it becomes routine. I had been sick before, I had missed lots of work before, I had been stressed out before due to work, I had has asthma problems before. But in all that, my doctor recognized that I was in over my head and that I was no longer able to recognize what was best for me. I guess I could have tried to pretend the day after she made me look her in the eye that I was better and stayed home (I was terrified to go to the hospital--what would happen to my kids? the house? the dog? my work? My husband was travelling for his new job and we have no family close by...)
But, for nine years she has looked after me--with no other intention than to see me happy, passionate about work, strong and content in my home life and as a mother ---so I listened to her.
I saw her for my physical last week and she spoke of wanting a me to find my passion for life again and, as always, inspired me to participate in my own recovery. We met when I started my job and the role has changed immensely. So maybe my passion lies elsewhere--away from numbers, back to people. Maybe I will change jobs, maybe I will go back to my job. Either way, she will be there to support me and guide me through this thing called life.