I’m posting these entries a bit out of order but the significance is minimal.
Koh Yao Noi
(Disclosure: Below are affiliate links for the hotels I genuinely enjoyed. The reviews are honest and unbiased. If you make a booking using these links, I may get a few coins. Thanks!)
Lounging in a hammock in Koh Yao Noi, Thailand is surreal, yet feels quite natural. Gorgeous palm fronds sway in the breeze just a few feet from my bungalow. Deep cerulean water and forested limestone cliffs scream with quiet beauty in the distance.
Koh Yao Noi is definitely not on as many tourist hit lists which is part of why I’m here. This small, beautiful, forested island has just enough development for each hotel or resort to have wifi but without tons of traffic. I signed up for a 5-day yoga retreat at Island Yoga, which consisted of twice daily 90-minute classes for beginner or intermediate/advanced yogis from around the world.
For this epic voyage or whatever to Thailand, I decided to abandon my usual hyper-planning attitude towards vacation in favor of planning the trip as I was on it. So I discovered this yoga haven less than a week before I arrived and I wasn’t actually able to stay on the resort grounds.
5 years, yall!) for rent and motorbikes for a small fee. The resort pics speak from themselves. Highly recommend! I stayed for one night at Koh Yao Beach Bungalows because Suntisook was full. This was basic and cheap but the staff were kind of blase and the food was adequate but nothing to write home about. People love it on TripAdvisor so maybe I just had a weird experience.
At first I think hammocks must be amazing because lying in one is the equivalent to being swaddled in someone’s ample bosom or on a bed of cotton candy or whatever you find comforting. However, the natural feeling actually reflects the absence of the constant tension in my normal life.
There is no pressure to cross things off my to do List. Not even real pressure to write this blog post, although I have been meaning to write it for some time.
No Monday dread keeping me from fully enjoying my Sunday. No guilt about the mild hangover that stifles my creativity. No dark, cold, reading room with too many cases to read, too much noise and too little privacy.
I quit my job on December 22, 2016. The day was like any other, not enough staff to read the cases, too many phone calls, and the reading room was still too chilly, even at the end of December. I have a slightly unusual quirk about ambient temperature, I suppose. Someone once told me that I have ten degree (F) window of comfort. Really, I’m just sensitive to cold temps, with overzealous AC causing my fingers to go numb frequently.
I felt compelled to read the complex Neuro cases on the reading list, knowing that there was not yet an adequate replacement for me on staff. Not for the sake of my practice, of course, because I could not care less about my boss, but for the people whose scans could potentially be misread.
Sacrifice vs Happiness instead of Sacrifice = Happiness
However, how much of one’s personal happiness is a person supposed to sacrifice for the greater good of others? By definition, physicians give much more than they receive. (If you are thinking ‘What about the money?!’, watch a person under your care die or send someone to hospice and tell me if money erases that memory.)
It is our duty to give up some of our comfort and happiness for the sake of helping others but where that giving cross the line into self-injury is up to one’s personal values. I have sacrificed so much over the years, more than I care to dwell on because it’s in the past and victimhood doesn’t do anything to push me forward. Playing that card is much more likely to hold me back.
It feels good to give back something to the Universe that has given me life, and I plan to do that in my next career. I am obliged to. We probably all should feel this obligation. A contribution doesn’t
have to be as dramatic as saving lives, of course, but it should be something that makes the world better.
But I digress. I don’t feel any sort of guilt or regret about leaving my career. The patients will have their complex neuro scans read by an inexperienced colleague or a colleague who cares more about reading quickly than reading accurately or someone who makes the right call. Eventually some mistake will happen, and the practice will be forced to find someone competent. In my experience, reaction to a negative outcome is how improvement occurs in the daily practice of medicine.
It feels great to know it’s the end of my full time work in clinical medicine but more importantly, it just feels right. Doing what feels right, going with your gut, doing something a little scary that has potential for a great reward–this is how I’m living now.