THE OTHER SHOE
13 May 2003
I've been waiting all week end for the other shoe to drop.
After my frenzied entries of the past week, I've had a gratifying number of e-mails,
phone calls, and in-person counseling about how important it is that I give up some of
what I'm doing. Almost everyone has expressed concern for my health and asked if it's
really necessary that I work this many jobs and spend every day under so much stress.
I had a bit of a shake-up this morning, somewhere around 4:30 a.m., when I was typing a
report by the psychiatrist about a 60 year old patient who was in a convalescent hospital
following a stroke. I'm 60 years old. Stress can precipitate stroke. This patient is now
partially paralyzed and is having difficulty communicating. Talk about a wake up call.
In all the exchanges, a good quote popped into my head as I was writing to a friend.
"I'd like to take some time to smell the roses before I start pushing up
daisies." (It's a little thing of my own. I shall not publish it.)
So it has become clear to me that something's gotta give.
My decision was made for me when Dr. G was overheard talking to someone about his
schedule for the coming months. His book, the last chapter of which I am now typing, is
due to be published in mid September to early October. Exactly the time I will be in
I had been waiting to tell him about the trip. I had hoped to wait until things at the
office were running more smoothly--till we had a tech in place, till we had the finances
straightened out and a new biller in place, until...until...until. A dozen
In truth, one reason I was waiting was because I hadn't made up my mind whether I
wanted to ask him for a 2 month leave of absence, or if I wanted to just quit. The stress
of the past two weeks, topped by the announcement of the publication date, took that
decision out of my hands. He obviously is going to need someone experienced in the office
while he's doing all those "new author" public appearances he expects to be
making, and I'm going to be mucking around in the bush and chasing roos and feeding
dolphins and stuff like that. He needs a new office manager.
Once I'd made that mental decision, it was lovely how freeing a thought it was.
Of course I still had to communicate that thought to him and I am, if nothing else, a
wimp. I tried to get the words out of my mouth last week, but there never seemed to be an
opportunity. There were always Very Important Projects to be discussed and he was always
flying off to an appointment or something. In truth, I didn't try very hard.
I finally decided to take the real coward's way out--it's worked for me in the past: I
sent him an e-mail. I didn't just send him an e-mail, I waited till I knew he was
out of town (went away for the Mother's Day weekend) before I pushed the "send"
button. But I did push it, and then wondered all weekend what his reaction would
I thought there might be a message for me this morning, but no. There was none.
I thought he might call. But no, he did not.
The longer I waited, the more nervous I became.
Then "C" called, the new tech. She had some information to impart, some
favors to ask, and a message from Dr. G about something he wanted me to do. It was very
unusual for him to have someone else call me, so that didn't make me feel very comfortable
I didn't know how I'd behave when he finally arrived, but fortunately, he called the
office first to get some information. His voice sounded "kind." He just said
he'd received my e-mail and we'd talk later.
Well, if my intent had been to wait until things were running more smoothly, I couldn't
possibly have picked a worse day. Someone came in to help make heads and/or tails out of
the strange billing of our biller of the past 6 months and ended up so frustrated I
thought she was going to have a nervous breakdown right in the office. We lost a big stack
of paperwork having to do with the billing and neither Dr. G nor I could remember who had
them last. At the same time, the biller arrived, ready to be helpful and totally unaware
of the fact that her job has already been turned over to someone else, but Dr. G just
hasn't had time to tell her. Then we had the patient with the blood pressure of 230/135,
which he told her is the highest pressure he's ever seen on someone who was still up and
walking around. And then there was the patient who was just released from being held over
the weekend in a mental hospital because she cracked. Additionally, Dr. G had a dinner
meeting he had to get to and was already late, so was rushing to get out of the office.
Anything that could have gone wrong today, went wrong.
Finally, as he was rushing out the door to his meeting, he stopped by my desk and we
talked a bit. We both recognized his need for an experienced person to be in the office
from August to October and he told me that absolutely no way could I pass up this
opportunity to travel in Australia. But he also asked if I'd be willing to do some more
work for him after I return, and I said I would be willing to consider it.
We still haven't exactly discussed it for more than 30 seconds, but it appears that I'm
really quitting my job and that we will be parting on amicable terms, leaving the door
open for possible work on my return (I suspect that having 8 weeks or more away from that
job I will be less likely to want to return, but we'll see...)
The other shoe hasn't dropped exactly, but it has been put on the floor and we're
stepping gingerly over it at present.