Two Assistant Bosses Together: Work-Life Balance
June 18, 2020
I have had a slight headache since yesterday and even this morning. I’m sitting at the kitchen table a bit earlier than usual at 503AM. I made myself some coffee and took 1000mg tylenol. Headaches always worry me. Neither Mr. Plastic Picker and I are prone to getting headaches, and when either of us gets a headache – I know something is off. I even wrote two posts about headaches for both of us. Here is the one about Mr. Plastic Picker https://drplasticpicker.com/mr-plastic-picker-had-a-headache/ and here is reflection on my previous tension headaches https://drplasticpicker.com/tension-headaches-drplasticpicker-cures-myself/. Blogging helps with the headaches as does walking along the beach.
I spent most of yesterday which was vacation technically working on a Pediatric Quality Vaccine update presentation. RN Plastic Picker is such a harder worker probably more than I am. She traveled with Nursing Big Boss to the LA area to check out the set up of one of the pediatric vaccine drive-through sites that we want to mimic. Sometimes I don’t know how she does it. I worry about her health. She has two younger children and a husband that works off-hours. She’s climbing the HMO management ladder very quickly since everyone recognizes her super-star qualities. Everyone has different coping skills and I know she does other things for self-care. I spent yesterday on and off thinking about this presentation, and finally pulled everything together at about 4pm and sent the final presentation off to our Pediatric Big Boss. I could have just given the presentation off the cuff without a problem, but last night at 930PM I sat at the computer and typed up some notes and practiced.
When I was in high school, I had been on the Speech and Debate Team. My categories were Impromptu, Foreign Extemporanious, and Policy Team Debate. One of my close high school friends and I were particularly good public speakers, and there was scholarship money in some Speech competitions. I went to the California State Speech finals for Impromptu. It was probably one of the most important skills I learned in high school. I learned how to articulate, speak off the cuff with little preparation time and I certainly learned that everything goes better if you do have time to prepare. So I did prepare and practiced my presentation and will go through it just once more. This is not a big presentation, just an update on Pediatric vaccines for our 13 clinic leads. I’m the Assistant Boss now, so technically higher up on the leadership totem pole so no need to try to impress everyone. But this former high school speech team member always wants to put on a good show.
That is why I have a headache because this was an important work project that needed to be done. I’m the lead along with RN Plastic Picker on Pediatric Vaccine Quality Measures. The talk starts off “I am happy to speak today regarding The Pediatric Quality team update. This has become a tradition every early summer. But this is the first ever quality update during a pandemic during which vaccine rates have plummeted and there is real fear of outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases. RN Plastic Picker and I have recently found out that we are in high demand . So here we go.” The rest of the presentation sells the story in charts and graphs on falling quality metrics, but this captive moment for us to save the day with sheer commitment to health equity, our patients and “thinking out of the box” with drive through vaccines, social media and innovative outreach methods for the glory of our department and to save the children from vaccine-preventable diseases. And that it why I had a headache yesterday, because I just can’t do a presentation just like everyone else. I have to sell the story and prepare.
Mr. Plastic Picker is also Assistant Boss in his department. He is a specialist specialist in one of the most technical and highest earning fields in medicine. I joke around that I’m the Pediatric Assistant Boss which is a less than half the going salary of the Specialist Specialist Assistant Boss. Both our jobs require us to deal with budgets, human resources and those little special annoying tasks reserved for Assistant Bosses. We often talk about our days and this is very much part of our relationship. We have always been on parallel paths. We are relatively young for Assistant Bosses not yet in our mid 40s and husband and wife, which is unusual. But at some point, does it make sense to have Two Department Bosses in the same household? We have figured out the two Assistant Bosses work-life balance but Two Department Bosses?
Along with finishing the Pediatric Vaccine Quality presentation yesterday and practicing it, I also drove our high school son to school to pick up his year book. Since COVID-19 quarantine it’s the first time he’s seen his campus. We just drove through and one of the school administrators handed him his yearbook just like you would pick up an order at McDonalds. On the short ride to and from school, we talked about his life and he talked about his lack of motivation and his angst as a 15-year-old. He said he felt he lacked motivation because what was the point of all this studying when he would just get married and buy a nice house at some point and live a boring life? We had a good back and forth and I am always frank with him regarding my expectations for him. His father and I have chosen to give him a very comfortable life at a fancy Prep school. I tell him about some of the patients I take care of, and the acts of bravery and brilliance I see – that they are rarely among the upper-middle-class mostly coddled set of families that inhabit our prep school bubble. My son laughed and said he understood my point. I was amazed that our 15-year-old who is in five honors classes next year and doing as well as he is doing – thinks he lacks motivation?
But then I quickly looked over and spied him flipping through his yearbook looking at some pictures of a friend. “Do you think she is pretty?” I asked. And he looked at me oddly. “I think she’s okay. I don’t really look at her like that.” Then I asked him “So are any of your friends dating?” There had been a little bit of dating drama for his best friend last year. “Not really.” He answered is a drawn out and vague two words. He continued to flip through his yearbook chuckling at himself, already world-weary from being 15. I have had thoughts of my future daughter-in-law lately with different possible people superimposed on this hypothetical person.
Perhaps that is why I had a headache yesterday? I told Mr. Plastic Picker about our conversation and he just laughed. I don’t think it is funny at all. Well it is 548AM and I have poured out my greatest fear in life, that I won’t get along with my daughter-in-law that does not yet even exist. I may have to continue on my management track so I have an excuse of things to do rather than dealing with that hypothetical daughter-in-law and the family that this person is attached to. Why is it that just when your children are reaching the ages where they are interesting and relateably, that it is the time they go out and become emeshed with other families? It’s supposed to be Two Assistant Bosses Together make Two Little Assisant Bosses that are Half Vulcan, not Two Assistant Bosses Together make One Handsome Half Vulcan Assistant Bosses who marries a girl who went to prep school and does not work as hard as Dr. Plastic Picker. We already finished our Living Trusts and I have specified that all my jewlery (I don’t have that much) goes to our Tween daughter and we have a generation skipping irrevocable trusts so that in case of divorce, the divorcing spouse does not get anything. I even specified that I will donate my organs but not my cornea, and that no parts of my body can be included in an synthetic lifeforms or used for cloning. When I told the Trust and Estates Attorney I wanted that included (she has been an attorney for over 50 years), she said that it is the first time anyone has asked for that to be included. I was totally serious.