Yesterday, I asked the question, “What do you do?” As I age, the what do you do question seems to be the center point of my life. In my youth and young adulthood, I never asked that question. I simply did! At each subsequent stage of life, my path was clear.
Go to bed. Get up, shower and dress. Eat breakfast. Go to the hospital, then to the office. Care for my patients, then their charts. Go home and eat dinner. Play with the kids. Play with Renee. Go to bed. Do over again.
One day it all changed. I went from work-a-holic doctor to patient with Parkinson’s and a very bad back. I had surgery and went to inpatient rehab. Still, my path was clear only, instead of going to the hospital, I was a patient in the hospital. The routine was eat, sleep and rehab. Surely, I would recover and return to my old routine.
I did not return to the office. Instead, I went home, disabled and, for the first time, I asked, “What do I do?” There was outpatient rehab to occupy my days. There were friends to visit with, dinners to go to, and travel to look forward to. Then came Covid-19 and social distancing. Travel became risky. Dinners out became risky.
It soon became evident that I was permanently retired. While I advised my patients not to retire, to keep a door opened so that if they wanted to go back to work they could, my doors slammed shut. For the first time I asked, “What do I do?”
The answer was surprisingly clear. I became my parents. I feel all of their concerns and fears. I’m mostly my mother. I worry about money. I worry about the children. I can’t find a place for myself. I worry Renee. Worst of all, I shop at 3 supermarkets! I eat, cook and gain weight. I’m really good at gaining weight. I complain about my hands, my back, my gait: my life.
I shouldn’t. I have a good life, good children and grandchildren but, at 3 am, the only thing to do is ask questions. Worry and complaining take the place of going to the office. Shopping takes up some of my time but is not intellectually stimulating. “What do I do?”
I scour the internet for work. I consider starting a Podcast, but I don’t. I’ve started my book 10 times and 10 times fail to impress myself. I want to teach but am too outdated to get a position. I want to be a patient advocate/coordinator, but my reputation and credentials are in Illinois and do not hold any weight in North Carolina. What do I do?
I may not know what to do but I know what I don’t do. I don’t give up! I’ll keep searching for an answer. In the meantime, I work on dieting, exercising, wear my mask, keep a 10-foot free zone around me and wash my hands. I surround myself with friends and family.
Most of all, I try not to stress Renee. I do as much for myself as I can, recognizing that the day is coming when she’ll have to do it all. She is the love of my life. What do I do? For sure, I tell her how much I love her morning, noon and night.
Here is your music and a joke.
Knock, knock. Who’s there? Olive. Olive, who? Olive you, and I don’t care who knows it.
When is it okay to Love thy neighbor? When her husband is away on business!