Thursday, January 7, 2010

Life Circles


Life has circled back to the beginning of our move to Ecuador. One year ago at this time, I was preparing my lectures on the 'Conquest of the Incas' and 'Pre-Columbian Art and Culture of Ecuador', and tonight I am scrambling through my slides, trying to remember dates and details and kicking myself for not spending every day in Florida preparing. Eric has experience with lecturing, so he is able to 'wing' it last minute and sound like he knows what he is talking about. I want to know exactly what I plan to say and I have no desire to improvise or throw it together, but that is exactly what I am doing tonight.

My daytime goal was to manage as sticky problem with a former patient, and in fact, it went well, or as well as could be expected. The shock of the day was to learn that the very nasty secretary who I had struggled with for years at my former employment, was found to be embezzling money from the practice for the entire time she worked for the organization. I had challenged her on many occasions, wondering why she was not doing her job or doing it poorly (she was the money collector for the 12 or so therapists who worked together), and she had been very angry with me for bothering her so much. Her behaviour had deteriorated over time and she had become rude to my patients and offensive to me, so finally, almost two years ago, I decided to leave the practice and start on my own. My colleagues were not happy with me and our administrator chose to support the errant secretary rather than believe me, so I left feeling horrible. Yet, when I started my own practice, I found that everything ran smoothly, the patients paid their bills, that it was gloriously pleasant not to have to deal with a rude and moody employee. To learn that my instincts about her were correct, that my complaints about her, which were not well received at all, were in fact 'right on', did not feel good. It made me sad that I had such a difficult time and so little support from my colleagues over the years. What a revelation! I did not get all the details, and it appears that there is no way to claim the money lost, that the records have vanished or are disorganized (she 'cooked' the books). I must remind myself to always trust my instincts!

I ran into several patients, which felt good, but it was fine to say hello and goodbye and 'see you in August!' Although I cannot imagine returning to work, it feels inevitable, so I am trying to feel good about having so much to come home to.

I am running around like a whirlwind, to the bank, trying to find a way to manage all the bills, to the pharmacy trying to get all our medications for the next six months and ordering the Cipro and the Malarone for us and for the students who will forget theirs or need it on the trip. I had to return to the rental car agency to sort out insurance details, I took care of malpractice details (avoiding malpractice by being proactive). Although I am not practicing this year, it is better to continue my malpractice as a part-time physician rather than stop it and restart it next July. I did manage to meet Tara for coffee (she was between her dental and therapy appointments) and she took Maya to visit her old school at lunchtime while I took care of the office issues. Maya was delighted to see her former teachers and a few of her school friends. She visited and played with her orchestra of last year during the evening. She is eager to see everyone, which is quite impossible. She will practice with her former accompanist tomorrow, and I am trying to find a way for her to join her Saturday ballet class.

When I tell friends and acquaintances about our time in Ecuador, it is inevitable that our frequent encounters with thieves is part of the conversation, to which the response is invariably 'Why would you want to return?' or 'How is it possible to live like that?", yet I find myself enthusiastic about our very adventuresome life in Quito and I am eager to return. I did not realize until I returned to Baltimore just how intense and complicated my life is here and how much I enjoy the slower pace of our days in Ecuador. The stress level here is intense, and I feel agitated and panicky every minute. We definitely have too little time to accomplish in far too much, which is due to poor planning or simply avoidance of the inevitable. I have no doubt that I will adjust and manage when we return to live in Baltimore, but now more than ever, I want to enjoy every moment of the second half of our time in Quito.

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