Friday, January 04, 2019

If It's in The Way, It Is The Way

Rounding the home stretch toward Christmas, I went on a tour of the gorgeous new hospital where I will soon perform my paying job, assuming the new boss doesn’t fire me first thing. This hospital is huge—it is 11 stories high and takes up an entire city block—and has 274 beds. There is extra space available so that it can be built out to accommodate 355 patients if needed. Every patient room is a private room except for one lone room in the ED that is for less acute patients; it looks like as many as four patients could be in there. On the units other than the ED, every patient room is also on the perimeter of the building and has a view.

You might like to know that every ICU room has a dialysis hookup, so a patient who needs dialysis doesn’t have to be transported elsewhere. There is a rooftop garden open to the public; it has an expanse of greenery where water is collected to be used for the cooling system. (There are several other roof spaces with gardens growing on them and water being collected, but only one is open to the public.) Last but not least, along the longest hallway in the hospital are 13 operating rooms: an entire city block of ORs.

This hospital looks a lot like the same system’s new hospital that opened earlier in the year not far from where I live. (Anytime my boss neglected to specify what hospital I should report to, which was most of the time, I assigned myself to go there.) One thing I love about that hospital is that there are tons of computers with reasonable ergonomics where anyone can chart. 

The ergonomics at the hospital where I work right this minute are horrible. No workstation is really comfortable. There are all sorts of ad hoc charting stations, one worse than the next in terms of what would happen to your back if you used it all day, and then there are a million of these workstations that can be raised or lowered for standing or seated use. The problem here is that you can’t change the distance between the screen and the keyboard, so you have a choice of having the keyboard at eye level and your hands way too high, or having your hands where you want them and the screen way too low, so I’m excited that I will (I hope) be moving to the new hospital, which I assume will be like the one in my neighborhood in regard to computers, since it looks the same in many other respects.

After the new hospital opens, over the course of one weekend, all of the patients at two of our current four campuses will move there, along with all of the care team members. Our admin said there will be one ambulance after the other driving across town for 48 straight hours. That should be quite a sight to see.


I keep finding myself in a frenzy over how much stuff I have to do in the coming year, and thinking about how great it will be when school is done and when the monthly palliative care class is done, when every single minute is not scheduled. I picture myself sitting in my comfortable chair reading a magazine and drinking a cup of tea. What a lovely, leisurely life it will be!

This is a mistake. It is a mistake to locate peace and happiness in the future, because there is no such thing as the future. If peace and happiness are to be experienced, it has to be in this moment, because that’s the only moment that exists or ever will. This is not to say that one shouldn’t adjust one’s obligations. That might be necessary, but I was also remembering what one of the teachers in my palliative care class said: it’s not a matter of more time or less time, but of more or less attention.

Theoretically, one can relax in any situation, and I guess it is my practice to continue to learn how to do this. What keeps happening is that I get my schedule carefully designed—for the year, for the month, for the week, for the hour, for the next five minutes—and then I have to call IT, or the phone rings with an unignorable call, or the smell that indicates a giant new deposit of cat poop in the tub wafts toward me, and then I’m stressed out. I find myself irritable and rushing so I can get back to my nice, orderly schedule, as if having to call IT is not my real life, but rather an interruption in my life to be completed as quickly as possible. This easily leads to an irritable mood, and it is another mistake: this, too, is my life.

As Eugene Cash says, “If it’s in the way, it is the way.”

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