Monday, July 30, 2012

Because There Is Passion

I still have a whole lot of passion.

I complain about work. Who doesn't. I have extremely horrible days at work. Like some do. Somedays, it really tests my limits. And yes, there are days I question if what I do is what I really want to do. It can be pretty tough. What frustrates me most is with all the cutbacks and budgets, I don't get to practice how I'd like to practice. And if you could understand what that is, you'd see that I don't hate what I do. Instead, deep down, I have a whole lot of passion.

With the McPharmacy that I help to run, it leaves me no time to think about anything else but the prescription at hand. Today, I forgot about my appointment with a patient for her smoking cessation consultation. I'm stressed beyond belief. I have an hour wait for all the prescriptions coming in. The phone is ringing off the hook. The doctor on the other line is mad that I had him on hold for five minutes. I'm already backlogged. And now, I'm suppose to step away from the pharmacy to do a one-on-one minimum 30-minutes consultation with a patient... and watch the pile of prescription grow behind me. It's absolutely insane. And the next patient I'll get the counter will complain about the wait being longer than 15 minutes and question my customer service because in the middle of all the chaos, I forgot to smile.

But back to my smoking cessation patient. At that moment, I really didn't want to do this consultation. Right now? Really? Is she sure the appointment was for RIGHT now? I checked my schedule. Indeed... appointment booked for right now.

I sat down with the patient. Pulled out all my counselling material. Ran through our questionnaires and info gathering session. And all the counselling tips I picked up from training and my PCP meetings came pouring back to me. Like a broken record being dusted off.

But once I get started, my heart goes into it. She talks about guilt. Her husband quit 30 years ago cold turkey, and all he keeps telling her is "I can do it. Why can't you?". She wants to. She really wants to. But it's kicking off a 30 year addiction, and for some reason, cold turkey hasn't worked for her.

I tell her... on average, it takes a person four to six tries before they actually quit. Each time you attempt to quit is a step closer to actually quitting. You tried quitting, and you failed? That's great. You tried again, and you failed again? Even better. Because every time you try, you're that much closer.

I could see a change in her facial expression. She gets it. I could almost feel her guilt lifting off her shoulders.

She tells me that she knows she shouldn't be smoking. Every time she smokes, she thinks about all the horrible things she's doing to her body. She knows it's bad. But she still can't help but smoke.

I told her...we all know what smoking does to us. There are enough cancer posters out there. But let's concentrate on the positive. Did you know that within eight minutes of quitting smoking, the oxygen level in your blood increases? Did you know within minutes, the temperature in your hands and feet goes up?

She applied all the information I was giving to her to herself. Yes, she told me. That her hands are always cold.

Did you know that within 24 hours of quitting, your chances of a heart attack starts to decrease?

Within 24 hours... wow, she said. She was surprised.

By the end of our conversation, I could read it in her that she was pumped to quit. There was less guilt, less pessimism, and a whole lot more confidence. She asked me when should she set her quit date to be. That's how everyone else does it right? You set a date. And from then on, you stop smoking. She said she's tried it many times before. It never works. This is a 30-year addiction after all.

I told her... this month, you're going to cut down from your 20 cigarettes a day to 15. If you can do more, that's great. But we're going to try 15. She seemed pretty happy. No great expectations and realistic goals, she said. Not sure if the comment was directed at me or to herself.

I realize that once our conversation is over and she returns to life, she will come across bumps and obstacles ... with a bit of that guilt and self-blame coming back. But that's when my follow-up calls and appointments will hopefully get her back on track.

Will I be able to help her kick her 30-year addiction once and for all? Maybe. Maybe not. But if I could at all inject a little be of positivity or self-confidence to perhaps bring her closer to her goal, then I believe I've done my job.

And that is my job. Why I don't hate my job. Why I still have passion.

It's true that 99% of the time, I get the frustration and McPharmacy practice... and time spent as an actual health care profession providing care is minimal. Frustration boils over me. And I get exhausted. But getting to do something you're passionate about doesn't always come easy and without bumps in the road. The rewarding feeling of using the knowledge I have as a pharmacist and being an educator to my patients is actually somewhat indescribable.

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