Betsy Armentrout’s daily alarm began to chime.
She peeked out of the window: pitch black.
The early mornings didn’t bother Betsy; she believed you must practice what you preach, and this time, in her packed day-to-day life, was her time to exercise.
She and her husband snuck out of the sleeping house, got in the car, and drove, headlights ablaze, and radio whispering, to the YMCA.
Betsy, her husband, and devoted friend dove into the pool and raced each other through the water in the echoing poolroom, feeling the crisp water revitalizing them for the long day ahead.
By 7:50 the kids were fed, dressed and on their way to school and Betsy was pushing open the door to her office at Ford, Simpson, Lively and Rice Pediatrics.
Greetings were called here and there between the other doctors, nurses and staff.
The Christmas holidays were at a close, thought Betsy as she dropped her purse by her desk chair and woke up her computer, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the many excuses the festivities provided for the staff to get together. Besides, she reminded herself, Valentine’s Day is approaching, which is another time for gift giving and community and the staff is closer than ever.
Dr. Stewart arrived minutes later, enthusiastic for the day, and Dr. Erickson, a close friend and neighbor bustled in, lunch bag under her arm, purse in hand, and laptop and paperwork bag over her shoulder. Betsy jumped up to help as Dr. Erickson panted, “I hit the morning traffic big time. I usually beat it, you know, I thought I was going to be late for sure! I have an early patient.” She collapsed in her chair. “Thanks, Betsy,” she said as Betsy handed her her lunch. She checked her watch, “We should probably get going; the kids are probably ready.”
At that moment, one of Betsy’s favorite nurses pushed open the office door. “Room 102, Dr. Erickson and,” she checked a chart, “84, Dr. Armentrout.”
“Thank you,” they said as they made their way past her toward their designated examination rooms.
“Talk to you at lunch!” Betsy called as the two parted ways along the bright white and green hallways. Dr. Erickson waved.
Hours later Betsy was back behind her desk. I must have seen at least a dozen patients already she thought, tapping the keyboard of her snoozing computer.
Now, for the fun part, she thought with a smirk. If charting wasn’t a part of the job she loved so much, she was sure she could do it forever. As it was, the happiness she felt at seeing familiar patients and helping them get and remain well also came with the bothersome charting responsibility.
It was almost lunchtime, and she had filled out six of the ten patient charts before Drs. Erickson and Stewart arrived to pull out their packed lunches.
Betsy had packed her favorite: a homemade veggie burger with spicy black beans. She went with her lunch mates to the break room and slid the burger into the toaster oven.
“I asked if she drank soda often,” Betsy was saying, discussing a little girl she had had a meeting with earlier. “And she said, ‘Oh, yeah, it’s my favorite. I drink it at every meal,’ and her mom’s eyes got really wide; she was so embarrassed.”
“I love kids, they are always so honest,” put in Dr. Erickson. “I had a little boy who had a whole argument with his dad about whether or not he wore a seatbelt all the time. The little boy insisted that there was ‘that one time’ when the dad backed out of the driveway and the little boy didn’t have a seatbelt on yet.”
Betsy grinned indulgently. She loved laughing throughout the day with a whole range of kids, from newborns and toddlers who came to the office in the arms of their parents, to primary and middle schoolers who arrived brimming with stories of youthful life, to independent high schoolers and nearly college graduates.
When days dragged, and the paperwork, prescriptions, and phone calls threatened to overwhelm her, Betsy would remember all of the things she loved about being a pediatrician. She remembered her goal: to help children maximize their health and, with the help of their parents, to work as a team to get and stay healthy, and help them navigate both physical and mental health concerns.
Betsy packed her bag at 5:00 pm, said goodbye to her friends and exited her office. It had been a long day, and she had seen 23 patients. She still had some charting to do, but, that was the job, she reminded herself.
After picking up her own two boys, Betsy headed home to enjoy time with her family and prepare for another rewarding day as a pediatrician.