DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES
22 October 2002
It's hard to believe that one year ago, I walked into Dr. G's office
and picked up the ringing phone that the woman I was replacing was ignoring and started my
official job as office manager and Lord High Everything Else.
It's been quite a year.
One year ago, I hoped that the chair would hold my weight when I sat
down and had a hard time picking things up when I dropped them, and couldn't get down on
my knees to pick things up because of fear I wouldn't be able to get back up again.
Now I climb ladders to water the damn plants that I hate and which
are going to wrap me up and squeeze me to death some day when I'm trying to chop my way
through the jungle with a machete to reach the water cooler.
A year ago, every patient I took a blood pressure on turned out to
be "dead." I haven't had a dead patient in months. (And they are definitely
relieved to hear it.)
A year ago I was terrified of not being able to balance the
checkbook. I still can't balance the checkbook, but I don't care any more :) We at least
haven't bounced checks, like they did in the two months my predecessor was there, so I
must be doing something right.
A year ago Dr. G hovered over me and double or triple checked
everything I did. He repeated instructions endlessly like I didn't have a single brain
cell between my ears. He was always reminding me to do things that I didn't need reminding
While he still keeps a much heavier hand than I'd like, he has come
to trust me and to actually let me run the office. I remember my predecessor
warning me that every single time he sent a patient into the bathroom to empty her
bladder, that he would come out to my desk to check on what I was doing, and that he would
never, ever thank me for anything.
Well, that's just not true. He never checks on me when he's with a
patient, and he thanks me a lot. He has even--be still my heart--admitted that I was right
and he was wrong occasionally. (I do feel I should mark those occasions in red on a
calendar somewhere, but it is just satisfying enough to know that it happens now and
He has even -- [thud] -- asked for my advice about things...and taken
A year ago he would point out to me when I'd missed a spot of dusting or when things weren't quite as clean as he liked. Now he has "hired" his wife to clean up on Saturdays, realizing that I'm already overloaded. He even seems to sense when I'm about at the breaking point (could it be the clenched teeth?) and will cut back--for him--on the pressure. It's better than nothing, and definitely better than a year ago.
I'm gradually computerizing the office--to such a point that Dr. G
just assumes I've done things that I can't really do with our bottom end
computer--but it's nice to know that he assumes that (a) I have the expertise, and (b) of
course have already done it.
A year ago, I felt I could never live up to D, the woman who started
the office with him. He had such glowing things to say about her (especially in contrast
with F, whom I replaced). No matter what I did in the ensuing months, I always had this
nagging feeling that D would have done it better. But I went back and checked D's time
sheets recently and heck--no wonder she did so well. She worked 3 days a week, max 5 hours
(and that was rare) a day (and only for about 4 months). I'm now working 4 partial days
and one full day, and sometimes work 9 hours in a day. Our patient load has about doubled
since I took over (not because of me, but because the word is getting out that he's a good
Perhaps D could do it better, but I'm doing a damn fine job and I'm
pleased about that.
The best thing is that when I started this job, my self-esteem with
respect to my ability to take on and hold down a job again was pretty shaky. It was the
weight thing. But in the past several months, I feel my confidence in the job has risen as
my weight has fallen. Seeing the pride on Dr. G's face when he uses me as an example to
his patients of what diet and exercise can do makes me feel very good.
I've won his trust and that's a very good feeling.
And one of these days I might actually balance the damn checkbook
too. That's the day I'll ask for a raise!
* * *
By the way, sorry about that Bram and Alice
thing. TV Guide got it wrong--that was not Jimmy in that episode.