While the tea was heating, I quickly dressed, brushed my hair, pulled on some cords, and added the handmade earrings from one of my friends who works for Kaiser. I was out the door shortly after waking and headed to Central Interstate, the office where I last worked full time when I was at Kaiser. I pulled my car into the parking garage, and once inside scurried up the stairs to the third floor and entered the ophthalmology hallway. I was early and it was pretty quiet inside. I didn't know exactly where I was going, so I wandered over to the optometry hall.
"Dr. Schultz! What are you doing here? Are you back?"
"Yep, I work here now!"
"Yay, we were hoping you would come back!"
These sentiments were repeated over and over all day. There hadn't been a formal announcement that I was returning, which suited me just fine since I'm not one to enjoy the spotlight. So the news that I am back has been trickled along person to person. And no one knowing for sure until I showed up again yesterday.
A bunch of different people hugged me. There were lots of smiles. I felt so welcome- it was about the best first day a person could ever have. So many people said they had hoped I'd come back. And that the chiefs were so excited I was returning. One of the ophthalmologists said she hoped I would work full time in their department. I felt loved and honored.
Also strangely, they said they still have lab coats with my name on them in the closet. One of my coworkers said they were saving them for me, that they knew I was coming back. I meant to go back and see if it was true (had they been accidentally ordered after I left?) but I started talking with someone and forgot to look. I could have used them too- it was cold in the clinic.
The only complicated part of the day was the actual charting. I had to ask some questions and follow around one of the other doctors a little bit. It was still a bit clunky for me to chart, but I'm sure it will get better. Also I really enjoyed the medical aspect of my day- I did things and took care of patients that were at a higher level than I've seen in a long time. I really enjoyed using my brain again.
Tonight we had a dinner meeting with all the optometrists who work in ophthalmology and the ophthalmologists. This was a dinner of mostly new faces. We had discussions about patient care and ways to improve our services.
A flurry of emotions has been swirling around my head the last few weeks. Mostly a lot of anxiety and anticipation surrounding my return. My first day back went better than I could have imagined, and I felt right off that I had made the right decision to return. I felt like I was at home.
***OTHER AMAZING NEWS: My coworker Amber from Germany, who is currently working as an optometrist in Missoula, MT was offered the job for Kaiser in Salem (an hour south of Portland), and so we will once again be coworkers! I am so incredibly happy for her and for me… and for Kaiser. What a great Christmas present.