My last blog It is good to be back prompted a Facebook comment from an old patient who moved overseas to live after her first pregnancy. I have Donna’s permission to repost her comment: “I love how dedicated you are Gary and it makes a huge difference to people. I found out at 39 weeks with ruptured membranes that my ob was taking a plane in 2 hours. I was so upset, and my birth experience was horrible because of it. I made the mistake of expecting every obstetrician to be as wonderful as you were with my 1st.” Thank you Donna. You understand how much I value my patients and always endeavour to put their interests first.
With my job I am on call 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. It is not unusual to be at the hospital for delivery in the early hours of the morning, when everyone is asleep. There has been many a time out with my wife, children’s school activities (such as concerts or sport), church attendance and more that has been interrupted because I have been called to urgently attend the hospital. Thank goodness I have a very understanding wife. We met when I was in high school and married when I was a medical student. My daughter Emily is married to Jeremy, who is radiographer. My crazy lifestyle was an added attraction for Jeremy when dating Emily. Jeremy’s job means he needs to do shift work and be on call. It is not unusual for him to have to leave Emily to go to the hospital. He concluded Emily would understand the lifestyle having seen her Dad rush to the hospital so many times while growing up.
I often get asked: “How do you take time off”. Remembering I am in solo practice (no partner or associate) and I want to be at every delivery, that is a challenge. In my previous blog I mentioned I start to plan what I call a ‘major holiday’ at least a year out. When details are finalised, I advise on my website and social media accounts. Patients tell me how much they appreciate this and will often plan their pregnancies around these days, so they are not due when I am away. I don’t take bookings of patients who are due while I am way. That means the colleague covering while I am away should not have any of my patients delivering. But the unexpected happens. With the most recent holiday I had one delivery. But she delivered at 35 weeks 6 days, rather than after I returned (which was when she was due).
Between ‘major holidays’ I also look for an opportunity to take one or even a couple of ‘minor holidays’. These are of much shorter duration than a major. My secretary looks at the EDC’s of patients and I pick a window of time when there is no one due. I then tell patients who are due just prior or just after this time period that I will be away from …. to…. It usually works and it is unusual to have a delivery while away for a minor holiday.
My wife and I may go for dinner in the city, have night at a hotel, go to a concert, etc. I have a colleague cover and hope all remains quiet while away.
Be it a minor holiday, or a night or weekend off I tell patients who are at the end of their pregnancies. Years ago, a colleague advised me to make sure I do this. He said; “an animal in flight rarely gives birth”. And so, it is for pregnant women. If you tell them you will be away, it is not common for them to go into labour.
If we are doing something local, such as dinner out, or a movie, or church, or school function for the grandchildren, or we are visiting family or friends I will remain on call. There has been many a time when we were out that I have been interrupted. If we are going somewhere local and I know there is a woman in labour, we take 2 cars. That means Robyn will not be stranded if I am called away to go to the hospital.