Day 25: Boundaries

Happy Monday and Day 25 of Another 100 Days of Hannah, y’all!
First things first: we’re a quarter of the way done with this second round of blogging – whoop!
Which means we’re also 25 days into the year 2021.
Not sure if that’s a good thing or not, but alas, here we are.
Today I’ve been thinking about boundaries.
Admittedly, most of the weekend, I have been dreading going back to work.
Thursday was very overwhelming for me, and I’m sort of terrified of repeating that experience.
You see, I was (or at least I thought I was) done seeing patients for the day – right around 2:00p.  I was tired, mildly nauseous, and had felt somewhat like passing out since 9:00a (when I started seeing patients).  I had seen 11 comprehensive exams, one to a completely deaf patient which required that I write out literally every word that I would normally speak during an exam, and several others to mostly non-responsive patients who required extra effort to get any useful ocular information from.
I went to my contact’s office to report on the day’s results.
At which point I was told, “oh, that patient that was asleep?  He wakes up super easy.  Just go wake him up and you can do the exam.”
Not wanting to seem like an uncaring doctor, I went, woke him up, and proceeded to do an entire exam and glasses fitting (that involved a call to his wife, several selfies and texts to find a frame that she approved of, a 5+ minute restroom break, and extensive education on my findings and the plan).  While most of my exams are finished in… 20-30 minutes, this one took over an hour.
I was exhausted.
I hadn’t eaten for nine hours.
I hadn’t had a sip of water for nearly seven hours.
I hadn’t sat down for more than five minutes total (in about 10 second increments) for over six hours.
And I hadn’t even had a chance to use the restroom, thanks to maintenance work being done at the facility.
By the time I got home, ate dinner, and finished charting, all I had energy to do was crawl in bed, and then have repeated stress dreams until morning.
Looking ahead at this week’s schedule, my near constant thought has been: how do I keep this from happening again?
I still don’t really have answers, but I think part of the solution may lie in boundaries.
Namely, learning that it’s okay for me to say no.
I can say no to last minute add-ons that aren’t experiencing ocular emergencies.
I can say no to keeping pushing on, just so that I feel like the staff will like me better, when I am out of strength and energy.
I can say no to uncontrolled scheduling increases, even when I feel like it’d be easier to stay silent, and not risk confrontation.
And I can say no to the fearful thoughts of the future that try to steal my peace and joy today.
Admittedly, finding my voice and creating boundaries to protect my health and sanity is hard.
It’s a lot easier to stay silent.
It’s a lot easier to tell myself that carrying on, come what may, is better than rocking the boat and being honest.
It’s a lot easier to try to please everyone else, and try to put their needs in front of mine.
But easier doesn’t mean better.
As I begin the process of learning boundaries – how to set them, when to set them, and how to be flexible and caring despite them – I’m sure I’ll make mistakes.
Lots of them.
But for today, here’s to not letting the fear of failure keep me from trying.
‘Til tomorrow,

Want to read more?  Here’s a link to my Day 25 post from 100 Days of Hannah.  Click the link to check it out!
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