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Unplanned Break

I’ve been running my whole life. Towards some mythical goal or finish line that keeps moving further away.
People have always asked me, ‘how do you do it all?’ — sometimes with a look of pity now that I’ve really had time to think about it.
In a nutshell, I’m a practicing Dermatologist, the owner of a large and busy practice, an active academic and a semi-fulltime mom to three hockey-playing sons. If that wasn’t enough, I just wrote a book, bought a farm and added three loving stepchildren to this precarious balancing act I call life.
I’ve always been an overachiever and I don’t say this from a position of pride or conceit. It’s a burden if you can’t streamline and channel this desire to always succeed and prove yourself. It also can become unhealthy — and dangerous — as I recently found out the hard way.
You’re not supposed to break your hip at 51.

But it just so happens that a freak fall in pitch darkness, brought on by chronic exhaustion, is a recipe for premature broken bones. A dose of bad luck probably had something to do with it too.

But was it truly bad luck?

Sometimes I use the phrase “We are where we are meant to be” when I find myself in less than desirable circumstances. It’s a way to make myself feel better. Though on this occasion, due to the lengthy time I’m forced to be alone and immobile, I had time to really consider why I was meant to be here: housebound for six weeks right after publishing the book I worked so hard to create. I should be practicing medicine and promoting my work, not sitting at home. It doesn’t seem fair. Right?

The more I contemplated it, the more I found myself dwelling on the concept of luck: good, bad and unexpected. It started to come into focus.
And as I sit and look out at the fields of my beloved Emilan farm and for the first time, be present in the stillness, I have come to the realization that sometimes it takes an unplanned, hard stop in life to make you appreciate what you’ve got and actually force yourself to stop running.


  1. Kate says:

    ❤️ this!

  2. Alex says:

    Dear Sandy – you are the strongest person I know (males and females!). You are an inspiration to us all and I only hope that the young dermatologists coming after you are as strong as you. The world would be a better place indeed.

  3. anon says:

    I had a fall and broke a kneecap and elbow . I wallowed and whined, but the mandatory respite allowed me to spend the final month of my (dying from cancer) pet’s life with him, cuddled on the sofa. I now look back on that time as a welcome break from my everyday schedule, despite the pain and inconvenience. Sometimes the universe gives us what we need.