There are very few areas of my life in which I tolerate detail. In fact, my job is probably the ONLY area in which I truly welcome minute organization. I call this the “Depth versus Breadth” axiom. I will gladly spend hours calculating and adjusting the treatment protocol for a DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) patient:
– what’s the fluid rate?
– how much insulin in those fluids?
– any glucose? how much?
– what’s the potassium? supplement? how much?
– what about magnesium? supplement?
– where’s our secondary infection?
– how much do the owners REALLY want to spend on ms. kitty?
– oh, and don’t forget the other three emergencies waiting on you
I welcome this flavor of chaos. I thrive under the demands, the stress, the mental power required. But ask me what my meal plans are for the next few days or when I plan on doing my taxes, and you will receive a blank stare and noncommittal shrug of the shoulders.
It wasn’t until recently that this inability to commit to details became flagrantly obvious to me. It happened during a trip my sister, my best friend, and I had planned to San Francisco. I took care of all the major details – bought the plane tickets, reserved the rental car, found a relative to crash with, and drew out a very basic itinerary (like: “oh, the first couple days we will stay in the Bay Area, and then we’ll drive around Napa Valley for a day at some point, and then we might take a few days and drive down to L.A., and then we’ll just make sure we’re back in the Bay Area before our flight leaves!”) And basic worked initially – until it didn’t. You see, not all people welcome the possibility of getting lost in a major city, or waking each morning asking “so, should we leave for somewhere in the next 30 minutes?”.
The difference in vacationing styles quickly formed a rift in our group that almost cost me a best friend and any pleasant vacation memories. And at the time I just couldn’t understand why some people couldn’t just RELAX and roll with the punches! So we missed our Alcatraz tour because we slept past all the ferry departures and had to drive onto the island and consequently got stuck in work traffic on the bridge for 2 hours and almost ran out of gas….good memories right? Someday we would all laugh about this absurdity, right? That two doctors and one nurse could be so ridiculously disorganized.
In my mind, it was part of the “experience” to set the major decisions and then let the smaller details work themselves out as circumstances allowed.
The vacation proved to be the catalyst to my revelation however, that not everyone can function well in a swirl of uncertainty. In fact, there was one area in which I did NOT function well in uncertainty – my medical cases! Subconsciously I had realized this at some point in my education and had developed a focused laser beam of anal-retentiveness towards my career. That focus had yet to encompass any other areas of my life – and truthfully I am not sure I want that influence to expand.
The Breadth I practice in my budget, my homemaking, my meal-planning, is a welcome balance to the Depth I choose to plumb in my job every day.