I have Thursday guilt.

I have Thursday guilt.

You see, I don’t “work” on Thursdays, at least not officially, not at the clinic.  In fact, I haven’t worked on Thursdays for many, many years.  And at the clinic, we’ve built our practitioner schedule around that; on that day, my treatment rooms are free for the taking by other staff.  Over the years, the clinic has grown into such a busy place that we’re bursting at the seams, and the reality is that we’re now at a point where I wouldn’t be able to work on Thursdays even if I wanted to, because my rooms are full with other practitioner’s patients.

When my daughter began full-time Kindergarten in 2016, joining her older brother in the all-day-school world, I envisioned lazy Thursdays of long runs and naps, hot coffee and newspapers.  Fast forward more than two years and I think I’ve taken a nap once.  Once in about 112 Thursdays.  Because the reality is, Thursdays are usually my busiest day of the week.  They’re the days that I get groceries, tidy the house, squeeze in appointments for myself, run errands, arrange coffee dates, and do all the things that my other days do not allow; they’re the days that I do life.

But inevitably, when a patient asks to book in on a Thursday, and I reply that “I don’t work Thursdays,” guilt nags at me.  I’m a people-pleaser, by nature or nurture, and it niggles at my brain when I can’t be all things to all people.  A character fault for sure, and one that I’m working on, but part of me wonders what they think when they hear that my work-week doesn’t include a traditional Thursday.  Now, logic will tell you (and me) that I work more evenings than the traditional work-week and more Saturdays than the traditional work-week, but logic doesn’t always win.  Logic will also point out that I have very carefully constructed my practice life to align with my values, and Thursdays off have given me the space to find balance for both myself and my family.  But again, logic can be easily strong-armed by guilt.

Is guilt a mom thing?  A female thing?  Or just a me thing?   Perhaps it’s a bit of all three, rolled up and exponentially powerful, a wasted emotion that has no positive value.

Do I work Thursdays?

I sure do.

(And even if I didn’t, that would be okay too.)

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Thank you for September.

We’re approaching Thanksgiving, so this post is about giving thanks.  More specifically, it’s about giving thanks to my team at work, who do such a great job and who I’m so grateful to have.

We have had a crazy month at Burlington Sports & Spine Clinic.  As you may know, our clinic is a part of the Complete Concussion Management national network of clinics, and as such, baseline concussion testing has become a big part of what we do.  For the last several years, that’s meant that we schedule a couple of September weekends dedicated to conducting pre-season baseline tests of hockey teams.  This year, that meant three full two-day weekends, and well over 400 baseline tests performed.  We collect valuable data on each player to compare against, should the player become concussed in-season, and this allows us to make safer, more reliable return-to-play decisions.  It’s a great program, and we’re happy to be involved with it, but the logistics are demanding, and that’s where the thanks comes in.  Thank you to Emilia, who kept this ship sailing with late Friday nights and long days on Sundays.  Thank you to Dave, who organized and planned and made this all happen.  Thank you to Amber, Kristy, Mike, Damian, and Britnie, who keep the clinic running smoothly while all this “extra” takes place every September.

A big part of my job, and one of the things I enjoy the most, is talking with my patients.  And what I hear again and again, are work stories that make people happy versus work stories that make people unhappy.  Work is a big part of many of our lives, and I’m ever so thankful that I’ve found a crew to make workdays fun.  They say that you’re the sum of the five people that you spend the most time with, and in September, I was the sum of the people at Burlington Sports & Spine.  Thank you for that.

I won’t bore you with the details of the other side of my life in September: the teacher/football coach husband, the back-to-school rush of two young kids, the puppy, and let’s throw a half marathon in there (bad idea), but I will say I’m thankful for it all.  I’m thankful for the choices I’ve made to get me to this point in life, the opportunities I’ve been given, and the luck that’s come my way.

And as I look towards October, I’m thankful for an under-scheduled Thanksgiving weekend and for the chance to restore some balance and take a breath.

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Bob said “anytime.”

My dad has a friend who’s been in his life for many decades.   Let’s call him Bob, to maintain some anonymity; Bob is a bachelor, never been married, no kids.  I’ve known him for more than 25 years.  And now Bob has Alzheimer’s disease.  

I struggled about whether or not I should write this post, about whether or not I’d be violating Bob’s privacy, about whether or not he would approve or disapprove, should he be able to make that decision.  And as my thoughts rolled around and around, I thought I’d ask his sister, who is handling his affairs these days.  She said yes.  And so I wrote.  And as the words came, so did the the memories.

Bob was diagnosed a couple of years ago, and just this past Spring, his sisters helped him to relocate to a Retirement Home in Toronto.  His deterioration was progressing, so within months, his house in Calgary was cleaned out and sold, and Bob was back East, closer to his sisters and extended family, and also to me.

For much of his life, Bob lived in Calgary, just over an hour from the small town of Sundre, Alberta, where I grew up.  He worked downtown, in the oil business, and had a mind for math and numbers and a personality for order and specificity.  He was a perfectionist through and through, and gave of his talents generously to many people in his life, myself included.  When I was a new University student applying for a waitressing job, Bob helped me get my resume in order; he made my experiences of babysitting and lifeguarding sound like formidable accomplishments and he went over my revisions again and again with a fine-toothed comb.  Every sentence perfect, every statement clear and concise, every opportunity explored.  He must’ve spent hours behind the scenes, thinking about how to best present my 18-year-old self to restaurant managers, while I rolled my eyes on the other end of the phone line as he got me to rewrite even the smallest details.  I got the job, I said thank you, Bob said “anytime.”

I moved to Toronto to attend the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in 2002, Bob’s hometown.  Way before the Facetime era, Bob arranged for his nephew to scout my potential apartment for me.  Moving solo across the country to The Big Smoke was a daunting endeavour for my 22-year-old self, but his nephew gave me a full report via Bob.  I remember that he commented on the water pressure being strong; attention to detail must be genetic.  I got the apartment, I said thank you, Bob said “anytime.”

School took over my life and I immersed myself in my studies and my friends, my running and my new city.  I was working occasional hours as a personal trainer when tax time rolled around.  I called Bob and asked for help with my personal taxes.  He filed them via paper and pencil, long before QuickTax, with me on the other end of a long-distance phone call, answering endless questions, sorting through paperwork, being as thorough as Bob demanded.  I got the taxes done, I said thank you, Bob said “anytime.”

I was a newlywed in 2006, back in Calgary with my husband for a Summertime visit, and needed a place to spend a night in between dinner parties and brunch plans.  He toured us around his neighbourhood, took us for a walk, made us feel welcome.  We had great conversation, marvelled at his tidiness, commented on his home’s precision.  He gave us a place to stay, I said thank you, Bob said “anytime.”

My family went to visit him last Sunday.  We told the kids that his brain was sick.  That he’s a smart man with a big heart and a big, awful disease.  He was having a good day and he was the Bob I remembered in many respects; the Bob who likes to talk, except this Bob had trouble finding words.  The Bob who loves children, except this Bob couldn’t interact with them the way he used to.  The Bob who loves showing people around, except this Bob got disoriented in the middle of his tour.

But this Bob still remembered me.  This Bob was still happy to see me, my husband, my kids.  This Bob still smiled, still laughed, still has a positive outlook, a generous spirit, a fierce loyalty, a kind soul.

I gave him a long hug, he said thank you, I said “anytime.”

 

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