He was about 6 months old at that time. On most days, he was left with our nanny and a helper. I was staying at a dorm near the hospital. I knew he has low grade fever and seemingly mild cough and cold. Just a few hours after starting my duty, I got a call from home saying that he was rushed to the hospital because he turned blue (cyanotic). With my few clinical experience at that time, I thought of the worst but at the same time I was not sure what to do and who to turn to. I was afraid to ask my seniors if I could go home. It was a weekend. I was too shy to ask my groupmates initially and I knew if I go off duty without a replacement, the whole group will suffer.
I ended up crying in our quarters. It was then that our clerks monitor, Dr. SC, came to look for an intern. She saw me, heard me. I remember she said “Why are you crying? … Of course you can go home, it’s your child… Just call for someone to replace you on your duty. “There would be someone willing”, she assured me.
I ended up calling JDT, one of my batchmates. She willingly agreed. I was eventually able to go home when she came for duty.
Looking back, the decision is simple right? Go straight to the hospital where he was admitted. But it wasn’t easy for me. Fear ate me up. It’s like I had an immature understanding of what duty and accountability means. I was only a clerk at that time but I felt I already have the responsibility to be 100% present when I am on duty.
This was the incident that made me think of how I would handle my priorities. I am a single mom and I am a novice physician. I can do both. But at that time, I decided that if I will have to choose, it’ll be my family.
I know some collegues will not completely understand. I know some may think it seems easier to leave the job to go home, thinking it’s R&R. They don’t know we get ashamed when we feel we become additional burden to the workforce because we have to attend to problems at home. I know some, in their minds hope they also have a child so they can get “perks” of additioal leaves – sarcastically. (This I heard during internship).
I know there are really those who understand. If I have to choose, it’ll be my family. I have to set aside my initial plan of becoming a full pledged community doctor because I want to be close to the neighborhood in which my son will grow. I have to choose the training that will allow me to go home as much as possible – even if it means 3 hours travel home, with only 30 minutes quality time left to spend with him. I have to accept doing reports, projects in my free time in the hospital and cram the rest at home. His social and emotional growth is more important than mine.