I am a family practice physician, and I’ve known I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was 4. I’m fairly intelligent, but I struggled in school and was never in the gifted program. Growing up, people would say to me, “You’re smart, why can’t you just ____.” I felt the same way, and had a low self-esteem and was hard on myself. I never felt like I fit in. I always wanted to, but I could never figure out what I was supposed to do.
When you have a chronic illness that affects multiple functions, your body quickly becomes a major focus in your life. I spend over 8 hours a day doing physical therapy routines, managing my feeding tubes and pump, setting up medical care, working with aides, and doing what I need to do to deal with pain and other symptoms. During periods when I am having new or worsening symptoms, I can have healthcare appointments 5 days a week. Since I use mass transit it usually takes an hour to an hour and a half to get anywhere, making an appointment an all day affair.
This was an exploration delivered at the First Universalist Church of Denver on 7/31/16,
I have always led an active life, and love all sorts of outdoor activities. People ask who I am and “A physician,” is part of the answer. That started to change in 2012, when I developed a progressive neurologic condition. Fatigue was one of my first symptoms and I had almost no energy to go out, let alone work. I haven’t lost interest in motorcycles, hiking, skiing, or skydiving, but many of the activities I love take too much energy to enjoy presently. I developed memory problems and was forced to stop practicing medicine because when a doctor forgets something, it’s usually pretty important. The wheelchair I now use due to mobility problems further limits what I can do and where I can go, as our society still has a long way to go with physical accessibility.