A Week Away From Home

So… due to life and bills to pay, I found myself away from home and in clinic for an entire week. Now, first things first: I was very thankful to this relationship with this local clinic I per diem at. We have a wonderful working arrangement and it helps that we’re pretty darn close in terms of a drive/walk. #Awesome

Well, what was supposed to be more of a half day all week turned into practically full time work all week. It worked out in most respects in that there are bills to pay and we gotta do the work, sometimes & many times, that we rather not.

I learned a lot about the healthcare consumer, my role as a clinical physical therapist, and even how that despite such a break from clinical care these last (nearly) two years… I’m still spot on with so much of what I do. I guess it really is like what they say about “riding a bike.” Now, while I enjoyed being in the clinic again… what hurt was being away from family.

After all, this was the first time in TWO YEARS I was away from home and family at a full time pace.

Ultimately, being away all day for a full time equivalent work week… I noticed something truly remarkable in parenting. First, my son was in a bad mood most of the day. Even though I took lunch at home, my wife would tell me how grumpy he would be in my absence. Our boy just likes having both parents around. We also, ironically, realized that mommy & daddy represented certain facets of emotions… much like Disney’s Inside Out.

Mommy = Anger, Fear, and Disgust.

Daddy = Joy & Sadness.

How accurate was this? Well… one day, I came home and Nate went from absolute anger-fit to super giggle happy. He got so happy we were running around and he ran into a wall. Immediately… he began to cry in the saddest most pitiful cry ever.

Well… that seemed to be our dynamic for the week. The biggest lesson I learned was this: I belong at home. I am MEANT to be Daddy In The Raw… a work at home dad.

I can’t say it’s been easy. I can’t even say it’s been financially advisable (yet! some big news, hopefully around the corner) or emotionally stable. However, it is something I know is right for my family.

Well, after such a long and hard week, we felt there was no better way than to make a quick impromptu trip to Disneyland 🙂

Here are some highlights:

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Crazy swag!

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Selfie after front row seating at the Paint The Night Parade.

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Entrance into Tomorrowland.

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How it started in the front. Now, diamonds in the back.

Ultimately, I learned that no matter where you are on your journey… you must find your home. Your home might be your actual home. It may be your family, your friends, your profession, your passion, your hobby, etc. Whatever that home is, find yourself there and start there. Why? Well… everyone starts somewhere. Even, Walt Disney.

And, the key is: You have to START.

A Year Looking Back

Effective in May’ish of 2014, I stopped working in traditional roles and began a journey toward working at home. In February of 2015, much of a toll had been taken on myself as well as my family — financially, emotionally, mentally, professionally… the direction was missing. In fact, I was a little bit lost. I was finishing up my MBA with confusing job prospects. And, life was seemingly divergent in the paths I was to take. It was during this time that my family was at a critical point; mere moments away from finding out if we were going to move across the country and start over… completely over. Or, to chalk this up to a hard learned life lesson in… failure? Or… was it something more?

It was more 😉


The Beginning: How I Got Here

The REAL beginning 🙂


To really get a raw understanding of the “work” part of me and how it relates to me being a dad, we need to start from the beginning — the journey of my career path as well as how it related to the balance of me being a family man.

The Beginning: How I Got Here

So, many of you know me as “Doctor” Ben Fung; currently the Chief Content Officer for Up Doc Media & a known blogger in the Physical Therapy/Healthcare realm in regards to healthcare advocacy, business, marketing, branding, and all things in support of students & young professionals.

I am a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), licensed to practice as a Physical Therapist (PT) in the state of California. Additionally, I have a Master of Business Administration from the University of Michigan. #GoBlue! And, have undergraduate degrees in Bioengineering & Psychology. Suffice to say, I’ve spent too much time in school. In my work life, I started out as a bartender way back in college while also making some money as a tutor and academic prep instructor for SATs & AP exams.

Eventually, life lead me to a place where I decided to go for that DPT degree & get into “real” work. Work… was good. But, it was tough from a professional standpoint. I felt very frustrated as a new professional having been duped in certain senses into an industry which is inflexible, highly political, and favors the experienced — despite the fact that how long one has done something rarely translates to how good they are at it. PS. That’s why I love Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) so much — the mat never lies. But, that’s another post!

Moving on. What ultimately happened was that my professional frustration led me to seek mentorship. My mentor advised that I look beyond my ceiling as a PT. He told me to look into getting an MBA so I could bypass the shallow boundaries of a clinician and jump into management. Soon after, I got a promotion as a PT II (level 2, in many industries means you have some more responsibilities and also have benefits of seniority). Still feeling frustrated, my wife found a snail mail flyer about a Rehabilitation Director at a well reputed, high-end facility.

I was actually struggling a LOT about even applying. But, I did. And, I got the job! Along with this job was nearly a 15% raise in pay. Salary. Prestige. Responsibility. And, the opportunity to make the difference that old systems refused to address.

This is where everything changed.

Going into this promotion into another company, I knew several things. First, I knew that my benefits would be sacrificed. Having a baby on the way, my wife and I devised this plan which would get us a total of 9 weeks of baby bonding time with tapering back to work schedules for the last 6 weeks. All this went away with the new job. What was worse, this new job required my being over 100% involvement at every level… quite often the work was following me home to the point where I basically never left work, mentally. There were a lot of responsibilities I had to transition into; not to mention, my entrance into fatherhood.

Postpartum was really rough on my wife. This meant that it was hard on everyone; mommy, daddy, and baby alike. I wasn’t nearly as available as I wanted to be. In fact, my son was starting to exhibit behaviors to which I was in disfavor — he would refuse my play time, refuse my affection, and refuse my comfort. Why? Well, we thought that it was because I was never around. I was always at work, even when I was at home.

Despite the promotion, the prestige, the professional engagement, and even the money, we never felt worse off. Exhausted by a newborn and feeling tattered as a family, I eventually burnt out. It was either going to be work or family.

Family always comes first.

So, I quit.

I quit and we took a 6 week sabbatical to refocus, rejuvenate, and rest. It was great. It was so very much helpful. And, it was needed. We needed it.

We needed to be a family.

That is how it all began… when push came to shove. I told work to shove off. Still, no one can afford that indefinitely. We all have to figure out a way to make a living. But, feeling so terribly traumatized by the amount of work-life-imbalance… there were adjustments that would have to be made.

And, such was the veritable beginning of how I started my journey in becoming a work at home dad.

That’s it for now! Please use the “How I Got Here” category to follow in this story.