I’m Judgmental of My Colleagues: I need to forgive and Let Go.
July 30, 2020
I posted a picture of a cooking error I made yesterday. I mixed up tajin for tahini. The “hummus” still tasted good and it was gone at dinner. The kids got fiber albeit from “hummus” that was runny with nothing more than pureed chickpeas and spices. It was actually probably healthier because there was no oil. Mr. Plastic Picker thought is was funny and I laughed as well, but I probably overshared and put it on Instagram. When I posted it I was laughing, but looking for “likes” from the 1000 or so connections I’ve made. The comments from those I know eventhough they were just laughing emojis stung a bit for various reasons.
This journey of being Dr. Plastic Picker and being vulnerable and putting myself to be judged as I pick up litter, making trash art and try to work to save the world – is sometimes hard. I once wrote at the end of a Star Trek post “Live Your Authenic Life” https://drplasticpicker.com/the-star-trek-enterprise-romance-of-tpol-and-trip-im-going-to-give-them-the-ending-they-deserve/. And I am trying to do that. And I realize the laughing emojis stung for a bit and made me go to bed early just because I was tired – was because I was not being judged, but I was reflecting on my own judgmental nature.
I have to judge. I am a middler manager. And yesterday was a particularly trying day. I am presented often with scenarios of my colleagues where they did not perform to the best of their abilities. A patient turned away, a nurse put on the line due to time-pressures, and overall poor work performance. These are the situations I am presented with daily regarding my fellow pediatricians. I have to continue to do my job which is truly formulaic, write up those that are egregious, gently remind those that are likely momentarily lapses, and if I see a pattern in multiple individuals – try to find the root systemic causes and change the workflow. It’s often a workflow issue honestly. Plastic pollution is a work flow issue, and it goes to Big Oil and Big Plastic subsidies and kickbacks.
But physicians are people and can’t be simply tossed into the recycling bin, thrown into the trash, or torn apart and made into another cyborg doctor. They are more like the injured butterfly I saw on the sidewalk about a week ago, that needs to be nudged to safer ground to be allowed to spread it’s wings https://drplasticpicker.com/climate-reality-training-reminded-me-that-im-an-pediatric-asthma-doctor-and-you-are-a-butterfly/. But a health care organization can’t operate with a lot of injured butterflies and we need to keep on marching on. I will continue to do what I need to do, to fulfill my obligations as a middle manager. This is important for patient safety.
But the watery hummus episode was powerful for me, because I realize I am judgemental of my colleagues for how they spend their money, how they don’t see enough patients, and how they don’t volunteer for enough committees – because I have been judged my entire career. I have those metrics that are looked upon favorably by upper management, but there has been a price. There has been a personal and professional price. And if I truly want to influence change in behavior especially having people use less single-use plastic, I need to change my heart. I need to accept that maybe all those sacrifices for all those metrics weren’t worth it? Maybe all the weekends I spent away from my young children calling lists of asthmatic patients because I was waiting for the former Chief Boss to give me some scant praise was a waste of time? Wasn’t there a nurse case manager already getting paid to do this? Why did it fall on a younger pediatrician who was doing it as unpaid work?
The watery hummus episode was momentarily hurtful for me, because they were judging me for my culinary lapses. I am trying to really learn how to cook because when I was a young mother, I did not have time and did not have my own kitchen to learn how to do it. I likely had a severe episode of post-partum depression and Mr. Plastic Picker and I came as close to divorce as we would ever get during those early years. Those colleagues did not mean anything by it. But I know I have judged all of them in my heart, and other than the necessary human resources things I need to do as part of my job, it’s bet to approach my colleagues with an open heart truly. I said it sarcastically at a meeting yesterday but I truly do mean it. We assume so many things about people but we don’t truly know what their life situation is. I’ve learned that late in life. I am going to stop assumed all my fellow physician colleagues are narcissistic. Perhaps all along I realized that I am that more narcissistic than anyone. I mean I have a blog where I’ve written about myself in one way or another more than 250 times!
This blog and journey has been by own psychotherapy for sure. Did I tell you I hardly passed by medical school psychiatry rotation? I always knew this was my weakness but I think I’m making up for it now. I did well in what I thought was “factual” disciplines. This is partly why I loved endocrine initially, because you could never argue about TSH levels. You were either hypo or hyper or eu-thryoid. There was no arguing about those lab values. But did any of those measures I learned as an endocrine fellow ever help anyone with the pediatric obesity crisis? I think I’ve helped more patients now through talking about fiber and trash and less-plastic food than I ever did with the extra pediatric endocrine knowledge that I had or the multi-disciplinary obesity clinic I helped design (that’s a complete waste of HMO money by the way).
And this is the root cause of much of the “bad behavior” right now for the front-line providers. We don’t have enough PPE. The entire country does not have enough PPEs. So we are dealing with these individual physician and nursing issues, because of a national issue. Let’s put it in perspective everyone. As I mentioned at the end of one meeting, I’m literally going to buy these onesies so we can wear them since single-use gowns are in short supply. At least it will make people laugh. And that reminds me why I posted the picture of my hummus, because I wanted to make people laugh. And they did and that was the whole point. And in the end I was forced to do another psychotherapy session on myself through this blog post.
If you actually read this, thankful for going on this painful journey with me. But I’m a better person this morning and I hope will be a better Assistant Boss for everyone. I’ve already picked up my goal of 20 bags of ocean-bound plastic pollution this month. I may pick up another bag this evening depending on how the day goes. I’ve salvaged 84 items this month as well already including an interesting brand new colorful mask that matches one of the onesies below. I’ve been doing a lot of Climate work lately and need to take a break. I spent yesterday afternoon on my “off time” catching up on results and now my patient results are down to one screen which is very relieving. Before it piles up again, I need to do our taxes and pay our quarterly taxes. We may have enough soon to buy another rental property but I need to pay the quarterly taxes first and see.