We start with only two pre-booked patients, a mom and her six-month-old baby, but by forty-five minutes into the morning, the schedule is full. I take my own COVID test (negative) and joke with the medical assistants about how they resemble pregnancy tests. Already wearing scrubs and N95 mask, I suit up with face shield, disposable gown, stethoscope and gloves. I breathe.
As anyone in health care knows, work has been difficult this past almost-two years. There are layers of dysfunction and disconnect. Despite our collective fatigue and overwhelm, however, we show up and do our best. We apologize for the system, the lapses in care, the way that everything feels complicated. This emotional work is heavy. Sometimes I have the image of myself, like Atlas supporting the globe, hunched forwards with my patients piled on my back. I am carrying them to higher ground.