What Happens When Your Head Hits the Pillow?

Laura Schwindt
3 min readOct 16, 2020

How This Moment Broke Me and Let In Some Light.

The day we took Ridley to the vet was one of my first breaking points.

Once again, I was exhausted. I dropped into bed, and my head hit the pillow. I was sure I’d fall into a deep slumber right away. Like many nights, however, this did not happen.

It would start as a pit in my stomach and slowly work it’s way up to my heart. I couldn’t always name it, but it was one of my constant companions back then. On this particular night, the day we took Ridley to the vet, keeping my awake was ‘guilt.’

Ridley was our 200lb Great Dane. His massive size and deep bark could fool you into thinking he was a vicious dog. However, there was a reason his nickname was “Boo Boo,” he was a gentle giant and afraid of almost everything!

Ridley had cancer. That morning he couldn’t get up. We knew it was time to help him transition peacefully. We made an appointment for 3 pm that afternoon.

My original plan was to call the last few patients of the day and reschedule them allowing me to go to the vet with my husband and kids and then home together to cope.

But we couldn’t get a hold of the 4 pm patient.

I had built a patient-centered practice. I took pride in putting patients first and delivering fantastic customer service. I often did this at my own expense.

I thought this was what it took to be successful.

I also had a bad case of FOPO (Fear of Other People’s Opinions.) I didn’t want anyone to know I couldn’t “DO IT ALL”!

Therefore, that day, I went to the vet at 3 pm. The appointment was one of the most emotionally painful moments of my life. My kids were devastated. My daughter clung to me.

At 3:55, I handed the kids over to my husband, stuffed my feelings down deep like I had done so many times before, and headed back to the office to see the 4 pm patient.

I walked into the operatory at 4:05 and apologized for being a few moments late. The patient joked that he hoped I had been enjoying my coffee break.



Laura Schwindt

Woman Dentist Burnout Prevention Coach. Retired dentist, mother and vegan athlete. Dedicated to helping women create more life balance.