This week, I stayed after clinic to catch up on charting. After actually finishing writing the patient notes from the week, the next part of charting was clicking “approve” on a long (long!) list of neglected patient notes that needed to be finalized. Literally, I just needed to click “approve”, over and over. But it wasn’t click click click click, which is annoying enough in itself. Instead, it was click, wait, click, wait, needing to click on every note I’d ever written, then wait for the computer to process that I’d approved it. With each wait, I felt more frustrated.
I realized at one point that I was holding my breath in frustration, and the shallow breaths were making me feel even more frustrated. I tried taking a series of deep breaths, at the same time I was clicking. This didn’t work too well, because I could either focus on breathing deeply, or focus on clicking as quickly as possible so I could get through the list and go home. When I was clicking, I’d forget to breath. When I was properly breathing, the clicking would slow. I could feel my blood pressure going up.
Then I came up with a solution!
Not for the computer system (hopeless). But for my frustration. It was a solution straight from Disney.
I began singing. In a near-empty clinic, with only the cleaning lady methodically emptying out the garbage cans (how I longed for the motion and creativity inherent in that task!), I sang songs that I sang as a kid. Long chants where you have to take a big deep breath then let it out little by little. The Hallelujiah nun song from the Sound of Music. The cuckoo warm up song from back in my children’s chorus days (“away in a thicket a cuckoo’s singing clear…cuckoo! cuckoo! cu-ckookookoo cuckoo”). It helped! Singing songs that I didn’t have to think about but that required good breath control calmed down my physiology while distracting my mind from the numbing boredom and frustration of click-waiting. Singing gave me the mental space to click without going crazy.
I had to leave long before I finished the months worth of backed up notes. The cleaning lady was done. The clinic was shutting down. And so more clicking awaits.
But now I have a technique to make the dreaded task less dreadful.