By Dr. Sara Ahronheim
Last weekend, over 800 Canadian physician women participated in the second annual Canadian Women in Medicine conference. Those of you who were there, as well as those of you who followed updates on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, know by now the caliber of speakers and the exceptional experience this conference has been for the last two years. What started as a Facebook group created by Megan Lyons, Canadian Physician Mothers’ Group (CPMG) morphed into CWIM in order to include all women physicians in Canada. Thanks to our first CWIM President, Setareh Ziai, and the rest of the inaugural Board and Leadership Council, CWIM has now become not only a place for us to chit chat about various topics online, but a living, breathing, beautiful organization.
Welcome to the new CWIM blog. We would like to invite you, our partners and friends, to contribute to the development of this initiative. This blog was envisioned as a place for us to get to know each other on another level; to highlight both exceptional women physicians as well as regular, average, not-superstar women docs. We are all shining lights in our own ways; whether we speak at conferences, run world-wide organizations, participate in Iron(wo)man triathlons, raise children, walk dogs, or live our lives quietly without fanfare. We want to hear from you, no matter in which category you fall. Perhaps you want to tell us about life in the colds of Northern Ontario, the bluebird on your feeder in Calgary, the farmhouse you love in Langley; maybe you’re inspired to write about where you were the night the Raptors stole Canada’s heart, the patient who made you angry, or the moment you learned your mother was dying of cancer. Maybe your soul has been begging to spill itself out on paper (or screen), to let itself open up to the world in a new way, to reach out across the country to friends and colleagues yet unmet. We want your words. We value your insights. We want to learn about who we all are.
So let me begin, and tell you a story; a day in the life of me.
This morning, I woke up at 6:10 AM. Pressed snooze. Woke up again and again until 6:40 AM when I realized we would be late for school if I didn’t drag my tush out of bed. Beside me, feet in my face and head buried in the blankets, my four year old son snored away with his dad beside him, also snoring to beat the band. Never mind waking them, I went quickly to my daughter who is finishing grade 3 next week, and rallied her out of bed with snuggles and kisses. We hid under her blanket for a few precious stolen moments, kept each other warm and cozy, until the stress of 6:55 AM hit me and I started to push her to get dressed. Downstairs we all fell, to shove some food in, get my girl to swallow her strep throat meds, brush teeth with lots of backtalk, brush hair with a bit of screaming on her part, quick ponytail and out the door we ran. A few minutes late to school, of course, and a few extra minutes of love and cuddles at the daycare door, and the kids were given away to others to care for. I was free! Off I ran to enjoy my one day off, as Friday for an emergency physician is just another day between shifts, or on shift, depending on the week. I ran back home, folded laundry, put away said laundry, gathered together paperwork to get done that had been waiting a couple of weeks, kissed hubby and ran back out the door. Currently, I am installed in Starbucks finally getting all this done: medical student evaluations, schedule requests, scheduling appointments for haircuts, dentists, orthodontist. And after all that, finally, writing.
Starbucks – my refuge from life. Who would have thought? Seven years ago I spent an entire year practically living in Starbucks, albeit not this specific one in which I sit now. I studied for my Royal College exam while gorging myself on Berry Hibiscus Refreshers and various other deliciously high calorie things. At the end of that year I couldn’t even look at Starbucks on Monkland without a feeling of nausea. I graduated to Starbucks on Queen Mary, and have made it my home away from home. Yes, I have an office at work, and it even has two windows, though I share it with four other women physicians who are sporadically there. But this place, this coffee shop on a main street in Montreal, this place gives me space to be free. Here, my words spill onto my screen with ease; I feel feelings and find insight, with the tumult of voices and smells and lives circling around me as I type. I love it.
I think every one of us must have that place, that feels like a getaway, or a special friend. A haven, a refuge, an escape from our lives. We all work so hard, we all take care of so many people aside from ourselves. This is my challenge to you: find your Starbucks. Whether it’s a hollow in a tree in the park next door, or a treehouse in the backyard, a library down the street, your car parked in the driveway for ten minutes as you decompress after a long day. Find your place. Your safe space. Go there, whenever you can. Daily, weekly, monthly; but find time. Take it from me – it makes a real difference.
That’s my story of the day.
Please, tell us your stories. Tell us about a day in the life of a rural family doc in BC, an anesthetist in Halifax, a trauma surgeon in Toronto, a psychiatrist in the Yukon. Tell us about you, the struggling mom in Summerside, the exhausted multitasker in Brandon, the researcher in Yellowknife. Write in English or in French, write a poem, a short story, an opinion piece, a journal entry, narrative medicine.
We are waiting for you. This is our oyster, and you are our pearls.
Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.