Thursday, April 23, 2009

To Get to the Other Side

There are times in life when everything seems to fall right in to place, and then, there are times like now. I can see the shimmering oasis of a new life, just on the horizon. A better call schedule, closer to family and friends, a chance to work in a collegial (not competitive) environment, more time with my precious kids and husband, and a chance to grow as a physician. Between the oasis and where I stand, however, is a treacherous, rock-filled, rapid river, swirling and threatening my ability to ever reach the opposite shore.

Obstacle #1 - Our house is on the market, and we have shown it at least a dozen times. Yet, despite positive overall feedback, not a single offer. I don't mean to boast, but our house is a beautiful house. I love it. I was ready to buy it the second I walked through the front door, and I can't believe that everyone else that sees it doesn't feel the same way. We never thought we would have to sell this house. Maybe we should have thought about selling it before we bought it. If we don't sell before we move, we'll have a hefty house payment, along with any rent payment we need to pay in Newville. This alone will be a financial strain.

Obstacle #2 - Mr. Whoo has yet to find a job, nor procure an interview in Newville. Granted, he has only starting looking in earnest recently. However, he is looking for work in the finance world, which isn't the best place to be seeking employment given the current state of our economy. We have been fortunate that he was able to quit his job last fall when our family really needed it, but now we worry that the employment gap may cause an impetus with new employers. Plus, without an additional income after the move, there will be more financial strain on our family. (See Obstacle #1)

Obstacle #3 - My current place of employment is not letting me go without a fight. There have been veiled and outright threats of lawsuits and damages and liabilities for me leaving earlier than my contract had mandated. There is also the matter of giving back a portion of student loans paid by the hospital. The fact that we would have to pay back was not unexpected, however, the amount that we calculated is about half of what the hospital estimates. We are procuring the services of a contract negotiator and a lawyer, who seem to believe we have a case for inducement, but I'm having angina just thinking of it. Not to mention the fact that, if the hospital's calculations are correct, they want us to pay up in less than 2 months. Add more financial liability to the swirly, cold, and fast water.

Obstacle #4 - Emotionally, I am wrung out. I am completely exhausted, and barely hanging on by my fingernails to make it to the date I indicated I was leaving. Being on call, continuously, with only 4 days off per month (plus vacation time), has left me completely burnt out. I find it hard to drag myself to work and muster compassion for my patients. They deserve better than the doctor I am right now. My health, mental and physical, is suffering. The remainder of my contract is a mere six months, and by finishing it out, I can alleviate much of the financial burden of the above obstacles...for the price of my very sanity. I want to cry just thinking of it.

So, I sit here on the bank, pining for the oasis, and unsure how to navigate the obstacles that lie before me. Oddly, I am reminded of the "old school" computer game, "The Oregon Trail." When faced with a river, you can try to ford the river, float the river, or hire someone else to help you across. Right now, I am pining desperately for someone to throw me a life line, or at the very least, a strategy for surviving these treacherous waters. The best advice I can relate to our readers is to know what you are getting in to before you sign a contract. There is no such thing as a perfect job, and if it seems too good to be true, it, in all likelihood, *is* too good to be true. Caveat emptor...and pass the caulk.

*cross posted at Mothers in Medicine

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

I will be thinking about ya and keeping my fingers crossed! Hope to hang out in Newville with you!

Mrs. Mom

Joy said...

I remember "Oregon Trail"! Fun game... except when it becomes your real life.

So sorry you have all these obstacles.

Margaret Polaneczky, MD (aka TBTAM) said...

I have been nothing but stunned at the workload you are carrying in your current job. Your employer has wrung enough out of one human being, I say go to the mattresses (to use a well worn phrase I learned from one of my fave movies "You've got Mail") and fight that contract issue full force. Perhaps you can reframe the issue not in terms of years of service but deliveries, call nights, hours etc, which I'll bet ended up being much, much more than you contracted for. I wouldn't pay them back a dime.

Good luck with the move!

Anonymous said...

Dr. Whoo-
Sorry things are rough right now. Glad to hear you have a lawyer. Although this is outside my area of expertise, if there is anything I can do to help please let me know. Feel free to e-mail me at attorneyamy@att.net
Also, I know of several docs (including one of mine) who were sued around these parts for breaking contracts early. Their situations were similar to yours, misled if not outright lied to about the way things would be. I do not know of a single doctor that lost their case. Hope that makes you feel a little better :)
Amy in OH

Carrie Ann said...

My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family.

Anonymous said...

The Oregon Trail reference (for those of us in the generational know) is priceless. Hope it gets better!

Ciarin said...

Wow - I am ready to run screaming from the room in frustration for you!

Susy Cat Medical said...

Long time reader and now I'm not sure if I've ever posted a comment. But, this post just made me feel for you so much! Life throws curve-balls at you many times. I'm praying for you that everything will work out. Thank you for giving me an insight on the future of my career! :)

mamadoc said...

Bummer, all the way around. Sorry you are having to go through this. But you will get through this.

Amanda said...

I agree with what TBTAM said.

This all sounds extremely difficult. You do sound incredibly overworked and overwhelmed. Just sending you some positive vibes and I hope it all works out in your favor.

Greg said...

Yikes! Hang in there!

Ethel said...

We are finally selling our house and loosing equity in the process but we'll be done ourselves. It was a move that was for my sanity and for our kids, I think it was worth the price - sounds like yours will too, I call it ransoming the kids, yours is ransoming your life.

I wish you luck, for me what helped the most was a mantra that I heard in my head a lot "God is great", great not in awesome but as in large. It sucks ass right now, it will get better - you are doing this wisely for your life and your children's life and your marriage, it may not work out the way you think it should but it will work out.

Lisa Marie said...

Oh the Oregon Trail! What a great analogy. Float until you can conserve enough energy to swim. I hope it all works out!

Anonymous said...

To quote an old Latin piece of advice, AGE QUOD AGIT which means DO WHAT YOU ARE DOING. When I left a stressful job with way too much call there was a similar jump across icy rushing waters. We did not sell our old house for 2 years of double house payments. We survived and I am thankful every day we left that impossible job despite the financial costs. Jobs like that drain you of everything you need to be a good mother and good physician. Consider the benefits of renting a temporary home to give you a chance to figure out where in Newtown you really want to live, which might be different from where you want to live now. I agree with Dr. TBTAM--no one should have to work as you have been doing. You will get through this. Rural ObGyn

ER's Mom said...

Hey, you take care of yourself! I'm keeping every finger crossed that things work out for you.

(((hug)))

Melissa said...

We're in a similar boat... New Job in New Town for DH, house sitting- but being shown AT LEAST 3X a week, and the 3 of us in a tiny apartment.

And really, best of luck telling the hospital to stick it with the amount of money they want.

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Anonymous said...

You may be asking too much for your house. My husband and I have been looking lately, and there are a lot of people with overpriced houses on the market, asking more than what they paid for in 2006 when the market is much weaker than it was then. The well priced houses ARE selling. Nobody wants to hear this, but it's just a fact.

Good luck!

THAT GIRL said...

Prayers lifted for you, your family... and for a peaceable separation and joyful new beginnings!

dr. whoo? said...

I truly, sincerely, from the very bottom of my cold, cold heart thank you all for your kind words and encouragement. Your words mean so much. Thank you, thank you, thank you all. :) I know that things will work out as they should...my Type A personality needs to take a step back, let go, and let God. I am trying...

Anonymous said...

dr. whoo,

know that things will get better. i am an ob/gyn who left a job with NO prospects and did not earn a check for almost 2 years. luckily, i had a modest savings and no kids, but still rent, food, credit cards, loans, etc. God provided and not once did i get a letter froma collection agency! God found me a position where i am boss and feel respected and appreciated for what I do. When I finally let go of my ocd, type a control freak, tendecies and truly "let God" fight my battles did I find peace and joy in the most unexpected place! God bless!

Midwife with a Knife said...

I kind of got behind on blogs, but I'm so sorry you're in such an uncomfortable and stressful situation right now. Just remember, newville's only a few months away!

It seems like I should have something more eloquent to say, but I guess that's all there is to day.