Ten cubic feet of mail.


I faced a huge pile of mail,

I moaned, I groaned, and turned pale

     Some was quite crass

     Most was third class,

And none was fit for resale.

I arrived back in Iowa and when I stepped off the plane I could smell the growing corn in the warm, heavy summer evening.

It was quite a change from Alaska.

The same plane carrying me carried another doc I’m proud to have as a friend, colleague, and inspiration.  I also ran into a pharmaceutical manufacturer’s representative who is just coming back to work after four months maternity leave.

Bethany and our youngest daughter, Aliya, picked me up at the airport.  My body was still running on Alaska time, of course I slept poorly.  But I awoke early and faced a mountain of mail.

The pile was literally two feet wide, two feet deep, and two-and-a-half feet tall.  Daunting to say the least, I hauled in the recycling bin, and tossed most of it.  Bethany tried to winnow the wheat from the chaff, and the pile would have been two times the size if she hadn’t.  Maybe three.

I kept out Journal of the American Medical Association, the Family Practice News, American Medical News, Yale Alumni Magazine, and American Hunter.  There were five checks and six pieces of important mail.  The reject pile came to forty-two pounds.

Every doctor faces information overload; we had a lecture about it shortly after I started medical school.  The speaker told us if we didn’t prioritize we’d be swamped.  The situation has worsened steadily since.

Friday morning I tried decimating the mail, and when I was overwhelmed I drove out to the medical office formerly known as mine.

I got a lot of hugs.  They were happy to see me, they’d missed me, and were excited to hear I would probably start working in Urgent Care during the next month.  I pulled up pictures of Bethany and me fishing in Alaska (see my posts from early August). 

I went over to Care Initiatives Hospice to sign some paperwork; we talked about how the new program is growing.

I stopped in at the bow shop to say hi to the archery community.  They were happy to see me, too.  I found out that the weather had ruined the entire bowfishing season.

I went to my favorite Mexican grocery and picked up avocadoes.

Everywhere I go here I see patients and friends.

When I got home in the later afternoon Aliya and I went out to the garden to pick chiles and tomatoes. We looked at the deer damage in the garden that happened when the electric fence failed.   I started a chicken to smoking over charcoal and cherry wood (great to cook with but a tragedy for the trees even if they did die of old age).

For the last couple of years Bethany and I have hosted pot luck dinners on Friday nights.  The largest crowd has been eighteen, the smallest seven.  This Friday we had twelve.  An outstanding night for food, conversation, and company.

I’m a family practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa.  While my non-compete clause expires I’m having adventures.  I just came back from two months of work and a month of vacation in Alaska.

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