A beautiful afternoon, late fall – walking through a carpet of oak leaves back to my apartment outside the gates of High Park, Toronto. Carrying a parcel.
I had come from Edmonton, after just one year of practice as an ER doc, to start residency in the newly created specialty of emergency medicine. So excited and so very proud to be chosen to be part of a new wave of specialists. We were going to change the world.
Thinking to myself: “This has to be a Christmas present sent early to ensure it arrives on time.”
Opened it as soon as I was in the door.
And, inside, I found a $750,000 lawsuit regarding an adverse event that had occurred during my very first year in practice.
Then everything changed.
The world just stopped. The room spun. Within seconds, I was profoundly nauseous and covered in a sheen of cold sweat. Vision now a tunnel. Heart pounding. Tingling from hyperventilation.
I wasn’t going to change anything for anyone anymore. For now, I was the worst doctor in the history of medicine, the human race, the known universe.
So ashamed and afraid in that little apartment that I was literally paralyzed – 2,000 miles from home, in the midst of a divorce and utterly alone.
It took almost five years for that suit to be dropped.